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Mathematics required for a physicist

  1. Oct 11, 2012 #1
    Hi all.
    I am a first year freshman in B.Sc Physics and i am wandering that what fields in mathematics that is required for us to become a theoretical physicist?
    As i know calculus is the fundamentals of physics,right? o_O
    Correct me if i am wrong. Thank you :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2012 #2
    In all honestly... the more mathematical course you have under your belt, the more prepared you will be for theoretical physics. You never know when some obscure mathematical topic will give you the key insight into solving a problem... look at Feynman.

    That being said,
    -Differential Equations
    -Linear Algebra
    -Complex Analysis

    These are the big three in my opinion (modeling and numerical analysis are also very helpful if you want to count these are math courses).
  4. Oct 15, 2012 #3
    Oh thanks for the advice..how about geometry? Do we use them often in theoretical physics as well?
  5. Oct 15, 2012 #4
    Check out the table of contents (available at amazon) of the books I list which cover the math required for each level:

    Math for undergrad-level physics: Check out Mary Boas' book and Shankar's "Basic Training in Mathematics". This stuff is mostly Calculus I-III, Ordinary Diff Eqns, Basic Complex Variables and Matrix Algebra.

    Math for beginning grad-level physics: Check out Hassani's "Mathematical Physics: A Modern Introduction to its foundations" and Stone & Goldbarts "Mathematics for Physics: A Guided Tour for Graduate Students". These are more advanced topics such as Calculus of Variations, Hilbert Spaces, Basic Differential Geometry, Partial DE's, Green's Functions, Group Theory etc.

    Math for advanced graduate/research level theoretical physics: Nakahara's "Geometry, Topology and Physics" Very advanced. I haven't gotten to this level yet but from what I can tell, its Algebraic Topology and Differential Topology/Geometry and the connections to physics.
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