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Maths required for physics

  1. Aug 13, 2012 #1

    Can I get honest opinions from the professional physicists out there? Will the course at that link give me a basic enough grounding in calculus to understand everything up to say SR, GR, QED and QCD? I've got the required maths up to trigonometry.

    And yes, my studies will have to be self-taught. No, I'll not be more than an amateur in my studies. I just want to be able to work out the maths behind some of the most basic phenomena behind our existence; right now, I just have to take a person at their word. Which isn't very satisfying as you can imagine. :)

    Thanks for your insights.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 13, 2012 #2
    Dang, I just saw the post right before mine..Embarrasing
  4. Aug 13, 2012 #3
    Your topics are still different, to some extent.

    You're much better off getting a book on Calculus than you are learning Calculus entirely from that website. Not that the KhanAcademy isn't a valuable resource, but you shouldn't be learning an entire branch of mathematics just from watching videos.

    A quick search for Calculus textbooks: https://www.physicsforums.com/search.php?searchid=3344868 [Broken].
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  5. Aug 13, 2012 #4
    Thanks, so you think that a solid understanding of calculus will allow me to work through the fundamental equations that describe SR, GR, QED and QCD?

    I'll have to look and see which authors people recommend.
  6. Aug 13, 2012 #5
    I'm not really qualified to answer a question like that. All that I do know is that, if you want to learn Calculus, learn it from books and not videos.
  7. Aug 13, 2012 #6
    Ok, seems like the only way to do it after searching through the forums a bit. I need to realize that my questions have probably been answered 17 times already in different threads :)

    Thanks though!
  8. Aug 13, 2012 #7
    you definitely need a solid foundation in calculus, but that isn't enough if you want to understand SR, GR, QED, and QCD. After single variable calculus, you need a strong grounding in multivariable and vector calculus as well as linear algebra.

    After you have those 3 down, you can probably tackle SR. For GR and the rest however, you will need some more mathematics but focus on learning those 3 for now.
  9. Aug 13, 2012 #8
    Alright, well I'll see if I'm capable of tackling calculus first :)
  10. Aug 13, 2012 #9


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    GR is quite advanced mathematically. I hear it helps to have a background in differential geometry and tensor analysis. For QED you should probably have had classical electromagnetism first and that contains a lot of vector/multivariable calculus as well as differential equations. Quantum mechanics relies heavily on linear algebra and functional analysis if you want to go really deep. I personally like learning math in a physics context, but it also helps to have taken a few pure math courses to start off.
  11. Aug 14, 2012 #10
    Let me recommend you this wonderful book (it seems like nice gentle intro into analysis neede for QM). I think the left column might be enough of prerequisites + some linear algebra.
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