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Multivariable Calculus and E&M Over Summer?

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Main Question or Discussion Point

Is this a bad idea?

I want to get my intro courses out of the way, but dont want to sacrifice a full understanding.
 

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  • #2
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Where are you starting from?
 
  • #3
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Not sure what you mean, but I will assume you're asking my course background and what my class standing is.

I'm currently in my second semester of my freshman year, enrolled in (among other things) physics I (elementary mechanics) and calculus 2 (single variable). Last semester I got an A in calculus I and will likely get the same this semester.

Feel free to ask for more info -- want a good answer, not just an answer =p
 
  • #4
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Here's a course description of the normal spring/fall version of the course.

http://www.physics.umn.edu/courses/2011/spring/Phys%201302W.200/syllabus.html?item=65021 [Broken]


edit: it is apparently four months (bottom of the page -- tentative schedule), and the summer session version is from 05/23/2011 to 08/19/2011.. Basically 3 months

edit 2.0: from above i'm sure you gathered that I am more concerned about the physics course than the calculus course...I'm not really worried about not having sufficient time to grasp all of the calculus concepts fully.
 
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  • #5
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OK what you are talking about is commonly called Vector Calculus.

You won't understand it all in 3/4 months. If you can become (semi) proficient in the agebraic manipulations you will be doing well.

Note well this comment in the course prospectus

The material you learn in this course will be important to you throughout your working life in any science-related career.
The vector calculus is directly transferable/applicable to many areas of physics so well worth getting on top of. Especially as you will meet it again and again.

It's a big chunk of material, so don't worry if you don't get it all first time round, proficiency will come with practice.

As I reckon that a gentle text just covering the main points is a vital adjunct to heavyweight course books, there is one additional (old) book I'd recommend if you can get hold of an old copy.

Div, Grad, Curl and all That
An informal Text on Vector Calculus.

By H M Schey

From the introduction:

In this text the subject of vector calculus is presented in the context of simple electrostatics. We follow this procedure for two reasons. First, much of vector calculus was invented for use in electromagnetic theory and is well suited to it.....Second we have deep seated conviction that mathematics is best discussed in context. Thus we will soft pedal the mathematical rigour, which we think is an obstacle to learning.....
So you will get the baby version of both subjects in one small book!

go well
 
  • #6
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I deleted my comment on the book as it doesn't matter.

Anyway to the OP. I don't think 3 months is too short.

Trimester schools only have 3 month terms and if I am understanding your semester system correctly you won't be covering any more then what trimester schools do in a normal term.
 
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  • #7
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Well, your argument seems to be, "No 3 or 4 months is not enough time. I would not recommend that you take vector calculus over the accelerated summer session."

My problem with this answer is:
a) basically every university that runs on a semester calendar has 4 month semesters (give or take a week).
b) I'm more concerned with an answer regarding physics II/E&M. I'm going to talk to my current calculus instructor about vector/multivariable calculus

My question was, regarding physics, if losing a month of this evidently limited time would be enough, in your opinion, to merit not taking the course over the summer.
 
  • #8
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I don't mean to be discouraging, especially given your stated track record to date.

Just that at university you have large quantities of material thrust at you to to digest and that this subject contains more than most. You just don't get the time to achieve the level of familiarity and understanding that you probably managed in High School / College. That comes with later reflection and use (sometimes it takes years).

You should be able to get a good feel for it in the timescale, which will stand you in good stead in the future, certainly sufficient for good exam grades.

I am not arguing for or against ther summer course, I don't know enough about the american undergraduate system to advise on this. I am just pointing out that it constitutes a very important grounding and trying to help you get the best out of it.

go well
 
  • #9
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I don't mean to be discouraging, especially given your stated track record to date.

Just that at university you have large quantities of material thrust at you to to digest and that this subject contains more than most. You just don't get the time to achieve the level of familiarity and understanding that you probably managed in High School / College. That comes with later reflection and use (sometimes it takes years).

You should be able to get a good feel for it in the timescale, which will stand you in good stead in the future, certainly sufficient for good exam grades.

I am not arguing for or against ther summer course, I don't know enough about the american undergraduate system to advise on this. I am just pointing out that it constitutes a very important grounding and trying to help you get the best out of it.

go well
I didn't take it to be discouraging or offensives or anything close to that. Everything you said was constructive and helpful..I just am in a bit of a pickle. I want to get the intro stuff out of the way, but don't want to get cheated out of learning the material.

These questions should probably be directed at academic advisers, but I wanted to ask a community that has served me well in the past before setting up an appointment.

From what you all say, my original inclination that it will likely be fine has been reinforced, to an extent, but i'm still keeping my ears open if anyone else has more to add.

^^ and thanks for both of your replies. Really appreciate it.
 

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