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Maths essentail to Physics

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

What specific types of math are essential to physics? I have a Geometry book but I think most of it is useless information, in school we never go through the ENTIRE book only some of it, is that because some of it is useless?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
dx
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All mathematics that you learn in school is essential to physics. There may be some university level topics that are of secondary importance, but everything you learn in school is absolutely essential and basic.
 
  • #3
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I want to study my self though. I am not sure what to learn and what not to learn. I am looking for some guidance on the subject.
 
  • #4
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I am not sure what to learn and what not to learn.
You need to master everything that's presented in high school (algebra, geometry, trigonometry) before you can study calculus.
 
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  • #5
jtbell
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in school we never go through the ENTIRE book only some of it, is that because some of it is useless?
No, it's because different teachers (or schools) cover different sets of topics, and the publisher wants to "sell" the book to as many teachers as possible. In any subject, most teachers agree (more or less) on a basic set of "core" topics that they absolutely must cover, but beyond that there is disagreement on "extra" topics.

"Extra" does not necessarily mean "useless" or "unimportant"! It simply means that there is not enough time in any course to cover everything that could be important for some purpose. At some point, every student has to learn on his own, material that was not covered in one of his courses, and this is where the "extra" material in textbooks becomes useful.
 
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  • #6
Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus (I, II, and III in a university), vector analysis, linear algebra, differential equations, partial differential equations...
I think that covers a good amount, would you say?
 
  • #7
"Extra" does not necessarily mean "useless" or "unimportant"! It simply means that there is not enough time in any course to cover everything that could be important for some purpose. At some point, every student has to learn on his own, material that was not covered in one of his courses, and this is where the "extra" material in textbooks becomes useful.

Seconded.

I will also repeat what others have said, until you have mastered everything covered in school there is no point spending time studying other subjects. If, however you're finding that you're very comfortable with the school level material and would like some guidance on what extra subjects you can do, that's a different question to ask.
 
  • #8
ZapperZ
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  • #9
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Look at Mary Boas's text "Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences", which https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=230281" in this forum. I'd say at least 3/4 of the mathematics covered in that text are what one WILL need as a physics major.

Zz.
just out of curiosity, what from that book do you think is unnecessary for a physics major?
 
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  • #10
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Well I think there are some other posts on this forum you should look through.
Check the very top posts in this forum, the sticky posts. They should prove helpful for you to read through. "So you Want to be a Physicist..." comes to mind.

Having used Boas's book I can't think of anything off the top of my head that is not useful to physics but at the same time I think it depends on what field within physics you go into. Surely all the math found in there can be used in different areas but will you end up using 100% of what is in that book? maybe not.
 
  • #11
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Here this should make it even easier; read through the article found at the following link as it contains a LOT of good advice

http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=df5w5j9q_5gj6wmt" [Broken]
 
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