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Mathematics for Physics in Zurich 16/17

  1. Jan 3, 2016 #1
    Hello Board!

    By eluding most math class' and homework as a youngster
    I have deprived myself effectively of a tool on which I am dependent nowadays.
    My love for mathematics if ever existent was ephemeral, unpredictable in its manifestation.
    I would either almost fail the class or would have finished the entire math book before we even had reached 3/4 of the school year.

    Today, seven years later at the age of 25 I have set my mind to study physics in the upcoming winter semester 16/17 in Zurich
    and I need to prepare, no relearn and refurbish my understanding of the required mathematics.

    Having been an ignorant for such a long time I would like to ask you people,
    who have already cultivated a joy and deep understanding of the subjects, to help me manoeuvre through this.
    This will be hopefully a guide for many years to come.

    What math and in which order should I learn the material to truly comprehend physics?

    All I can give you in return is my sincerest effort and deep felt gratitude.


    PS: Yes, I might have an awkward English it is my second language with German being my first but I do understand it quite well so please don't hesitate.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2016 #2

    I am also studying in Zurich, 3rd year of physics. I didn't get if you wanna study in your spare time or at a university. In your spare time, you should do:

    -Linear Algebra
    -Mathematical methods for physics

    This is the absolute minimum to learn physics afterwards (assuming you can handle probability intuitively).
    Just look up books on these subjects, I'm afraid I can't help you on which though because I didn't use books in my undergraduate courses. Mathematical methods should have one called "Courant Hilbert" which is good (but very long and you won't need everything).

    Now for a piece of life advice: I also started studying physics late. I was an excellent economics student, now I'm an average physics student. If I could go back, I would. The world of physics has been full of anti-social people, uninterested in whether you're understanding the subject, overly difficult exams made to fail a percentage of the class and arrogance for me. In my opinion, nothing good can flourish in such an environment. I also thought I had a passion, I also thought mathematics was "cool" and required nowadays. I was wrong.
  4. Jan 3, 2016 #3
    Thank you for your answer realnoob!
    I have heard similar stories from friends while I was in Vienna,
    it seems that the subject of Physics tends to accumulate people with specific traits.
    To clarify any misunderstandings, I want to study in Zurich at the ETH
    but would prepare myself in private, secluded from any course.

    Your last sentence intrigues me the most:
    Would you be willing to elaborate on that any further?
    My main motivation for learning physics is to become an entrepreneur in a more technical field
    and be able to understand what the specifics of the given undertakings are.
    I have a feeling that this is going to be quite educational, if I may say so.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2016
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