Math Subjects To Learn For Physics

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In summary, the conversation revolves around the individual's interest in transitioning from a career in IT to teaching part-time in physics. They are currently working on a physics degree in their spare time and want to know what mathematical subjects they need to be well-prepared for their future career. They mention having a background in computer science and programming, and are looking to supplement their math studies with topics that may not be covered in their university courses, such as trigonometry, college algebra, and computer programming. The conversation also mentions the potential for other math courses to be required in a physics degree, such as linear algebra, differential equations, complex variables/analysis, and mathematical methods.
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Good Morning,

I have worked in I.T. for the last several years at a college. I take classes every year still because I enjoy it. I am working on a physics degree in my spare time. Eventually I want to transition to teaching part-time in physics. I was just curious as to all the mathematical subjects I need to be well prepared. I want to make a plan and I will do this until I am successful. There is no rush so want to cover all the mathematical subjects that would be interesting and helpful. I have done a couple years calculus now and enjoy self study. So I am not afraid of what is to come. I just need to know what I should supplement my math studies with that would be helpful and the correct order in which to do so.
 
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  • #2
Yes, Calculus (differentials and integrals),
plus Algebra, Advanced Algebra (covers infinite series and Symmetry), matrix math, Statistics (probability theory, freshman statistics is about data),
That pretty much covered thru Quantum Mechanics.
Good luck to you. Re second careers: Brian May, the guitarist for the band Queen, has a PhD in Astrophysics now.
 
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  • #3
Thankyou sir, appreciate the comment.
 
  • #4
Welcome to the PF. :smile:
aindien said:
I have worked in I.T. for the last several years at a college. I take classes every year still because I enjoy it. I am working on a physics degree in my spare time. Eventually I want to transition to teaching part-time in physics.
Sorry, what does that mean? You are enrolled as a part-time student at that university, or work in their IT department and can audit classes, or something else?
aindien said:
I was just curious as to all the mathematical subjects I need to be well prepared. I want to make a plan and I will do this until I am successful.
The same math that is taught at your university for this degree, no?
 
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Yes, the Mathematics as listed already, but to help in learning for Physics, be sure to do at least one whole course for Trigonometry, and one whole course of College Algebra. You could also benefit from a computer programming course or courses. If you are working already in "I.T.", then maybe going to school for all this is very difficult.
 
  • #6
If you are just wanting math for physics, you could get a math methods book like Boas or Hassani.
 
  • #7
berkeman said:
Welcome to the PF. :smile:

Sorry, what does that mean? You are enrolled as a part-time student at that university, or work in their IT department and can audit classes, or something else?

The same math that is taught at your university for this degree, no?
Sorry if I was not clear. I work in the I.T. department for a 2 year college. I take take of all the work tickets regarding user issues, desktop management, and basic networking issues.

I did my original schooling in computer science. I am working on a physics degree part time. I want to do something more meaningful in a field I care about more.

Yes they teach the calculus courses that go along with a physics degree. That is not what I was referring to in my original post. I am referring to math topics not typically taught in single and multivariable calculus. I have been doing a lot of reading of older posts here and noticed that many wished they had knowledge of topics that weren't in their textbooks. That is what got me to thinking. So I was asking, in my original post, what other good topics to learn would be that would not be taught in a class. Sorry if I confused anyone.
 
  • #8
symbolipoint said:
Yes, the Mathematics as listed already, but to help in learning for Physics, be sure to do at least one whole course for Trigonometry, and one whole course of College Algebra. You could also benefit from a computer programming course or courses. If you are working already in "I.T.", then maybe going to school for all this is very difficult.
Sorry I did not give enough background. In my first years of schooling many years ago I did a computer science degree. I still tinker in C++ and Python today but also enjoy using tools such as Ansible and Powershell. So I have some background in programming and math already.
 
  • #9
aindien said:
Yes they teach the calculus courses that go along with a physics degree. That is not what I was referring to in my original post. I am referring to math topics not typically taught in single and multivariable calculus.

Aren't other math courses required for the physics degree? For example, linear algebra, differential equations, complex variables/analysis, mathematical methods are typical math courses required by physics programs.
 
  • #10
aindien said:
Yes they teach the calculus courses that go along with a physics degree. That is not what I was referring to in my original post. I am referring to math topics not typically taught in single and multivariable calculus. I have been doing a lot of reading of older posts here and noticed that many wished they had knowledge of topics that weren't in their textbooks. That is what got me to thinking. So I was asking, in my original post, what other good topics to learn would be that would not be taught in a class. Sorry if I confused anyone.
There's usually a math methods class in the physics curriculum which covers much of what you need. The rest you typically pick up on the fly. As @Mondayman recommended, going through a book like Boas is probably what you're looking for.
 
  • #11
George Jones said:
Aren't other math courses required for the physics degree? For example, linear algebra, differential equations, complex variables/analysis, mathematical methods are typical math courses required by physics programs.
Yes sir you are right, there are a few other courses. I figured these were standard for most physics degrees. I was just asking what else would be helpful to know that was not standard. I will compile a list in a reply here soon.
 
  • #12
vela said:
There's usually a math methods class in the physics curriculum which covers much of what you need. The rest you typically pick up on the fly. As @Mondayman recommended, going through a book like Boas is probably what you're looking for.
Got it thanks. I just got my copy of "Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences" saturday.
 

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