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Math subjects prior to starting physics

  1. Nov 24, 2007 #1
    Hi, i am currently trying to study math on my own. I graduated from high school 5 years ago and was always average in math. For some reasons i could not attend college, but now finally i might be able to. I plan on doing electrical/computer engineering or comp sci someday and am also interested in physics. But my math is not too good. So i reviewed some basics and geometry. Now i plan on studying algebra, trig, calculus. In that order, and plan to start physics when i reach Calculus. The last class i took in college was college algebra but i barely remember anything from it. I have a few months to study on my own and want to master basic geometry/trig/algebra myself before i start college.
    Since my first math class might be Calc 1 (or Trig if that is a prereq).
    Please recommend some Algebra / Trig and Calc books that i can buy. I have searched this forum and most books seem a little advanced for me. I need something that explains the concepts thoroughly and the material is high school - 1st year college level. I am just waiting to get a good book .. i want to start asap :P I really regret not studying after getting out of high school. I am 23 now and most of my friends are about to get out of college :(
    I am glad i realised i need to get the knowledge and found this great forum. Please recommend some books/tips. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 24, 2007 #2

    Chris Hillman

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    I am familiar with some titles from the venerable Schaum Outlines series and consider these to be surprisingly good books. While I don't know these particular books, they might be just what you want:

    Frank Ayres, Schaum's Outline of Calculus, 4th ed, McGraw Hill, 1999.

    Frank Ayres and George J. Hademenos, Schaum's Outline of Trigonometry, abridged edition, McGraw Hill, 2002.

    BTW, your determination to get going speaks well for your chances of success! Good luck with this :smile:

    (Heh, I see that according to amazon.com someone is asking U.S. $400 for a copy of the first book! That's surely a mistake and I am sure that you can get a much better price!)
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2007
  4. Nov 24, 2007 #3
    I really enjoyed "Calculus Made Easy", https://www.amazon.com/Calculus-Mad...bs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1195950942&sr=8-1

    I had to teach myself a bunch of calculus and trig before going to school for Physics, because it had been 5 years since I had been in school and I dug this book. Its style of writing is a bit older, but the theory is the same. Might want to find it in a bookstore and have a look through it before ordering it online (if you choose to)
  5. Nov 26, 2007 #4
    Ok thanks guys, i'll check those out. Any good book for algebra?
  6. Nov 26, 2007 #5
    The "Demystified" series seems good enough, personally I find that the trick is not finding a good book, its finding a book that you'll actually do. Pick a book, and look at the questions its ask you and see if they are easy enough that you could understand them on your own, but hard enough where you'll learn something
  7. Nov 26, 2007 #6
    Some of the series, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to.....," really do contain a lot of well-written information. You could drop in at a big bookstore, order a java, and check them out--for free, of course.
  8. Nov 27, 2007 #7
    Up to Calc I is all that is truly needed for Physics... occasionally, you will need to know about infinite sums/series.
  9. Nov 27, 2007 #8


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    You need at least Calculus I and Calculus II as adequate preparation for the typical common Physics sequence for engineering & physical sciences. You will find very intense use of some Calculus II skills in the Electricity & Magnetism course of that Physics sequence.
  10. Nov 27, 2007 #9

    Chris Hillman

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    Linear Algebra is terribly important for undergraduate engineering students, as is (at a higher level) Fourier analysis and topics in differential equations which require some background in real analysis. LA is really just as important as Calc for engineers. At some schools, the senior year applied math course is built around exterior algebra and exterior calculus and engineers are required to take that. If your engineering school doesn't, you are being cheated.

    Sorry, I can't think of any (precalc?) algebra books, but browsing the math book shelves at the largest chain bookstore in your area sounds like a good idea. Best would be a large university book store if you can get to a college town.
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