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Most important math classes for physics?

  1. Dec 17, 2012 #1
    I'll be applying for graduate programs in physics and chemical physics in about 2 years, and I want to do research in statistical mechanics, particularly thermodynamics of fluids, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, nonlinear dynamics, and other fields related to this.

    I have time to squeeze in a few more math classes, but not all of them. So far I have taken up to calc 3, ODE, linear algebra, statistics, and a course on Mathematica programming.

    I have enough room to choose from 4 of the courses below. I will learn on my own whatever I miss.

    Abstract vector spaces (a linear/abstract algebra course)
    PDE I
    PDE II
    Real analysis I
    Real analysis II
    Numerical analysis
    Complex analysis
    Variational calculus
    Nonlinear dynamics and chaos I
    Nonlinear dynamics and chaos II
    Probability theory
    Abstract algebra
    Mathematical methods in physics I
    Mathematical methods in physics II

    Out of all of these, which ones will be most useful for a career in physics research? I can only choose four.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 17, 2012 #2


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    Gold Member

    You're best served by talking to an advisor in the physics department at your school. If I were in your position with your stated goals, however, I would consider Complex Analysis, Numerical Methods, Nonlinear Dynamics I, and either Nonlinear Dynamics 2 or perhaps PDE I.
  4. Dec 17, 2012 #3
    just take the mathematical physics, one of the PDE classes (if not already covered) and numerical analysis classes. They will teach you the useful parts and you can self learn other stuff.
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