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My fall schedule

  1. Jul 21, 2007 #1
    I'm gonna be a junior transfer next fall and I'll be starting my upperdiv classes. I'm a physics major, but am undecided about which area of physics I want to pursue, though I am leaning towards particle, astrophysics, or optics. Also unsure about theoretical or experimental physics.

    I basically have to choose 2 more math classes for my fall schedule among:
    Complex Analysis, ODEs (upperdiv), Probability theory, and Real Analysis
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  3. Jul 21, 2007 #2


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    I'm only a junior myself, but I think I would choose ODE's as one of them.

    DE's of all kinds are without a doubt important in physics. Also, I have gotten a good deal of all the probability theory I've needed from my physics classes themselves, but I guess it couldn't hurt to take a class in it. As for the other two, I wouldn't know.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2007
  4. Jul 21, 2007 #3
    I would imagine that for upper level physics courses you absolutely NEED to have ODE done. Also, from what I've seen of QM, you also need the probability class. Get those two done first.
  5. Jul 21, 2007 #4

    Dr Transport

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    ODE's and Complex Analysis...Probability theory as taught by the math departments I have seen is of little use in QM. I wish I'd have taken complex analysis while in school so that I could do some of the work I have been doing lately without as much a struggle.
  6. Jul 21, 2007 #5
    I've heard that Linear Algebra is recommended for QM.
  7. Jul 21, 2007 #6
    Even the upperdiv ODE class? its focused on proofs and existence and uniqueness problems

    I know I'll need complex analysis. But should I take it NOW? or should I wait until later on in my undergrad?
  8. Jul 22, 2007 #7


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    I'd take DE, because they turn up everywhere, and one of the analysis courses.

    You'd be better off taking both analysis courses at some point in your undergrad, so I'd suggest taking whichever fits best your schedule, and take the other one later. Complex will be useful (mostly) for E&M/optics, and real for QM.
  9. Jul 22, 2007 #8
    what does your entire schedule look like? im a transfer junior this fall as well.
  10. Jul 22, 2007 #9
    if the DE class is solely existence and uniqueness problems, then it doesn't seem like a "must take" class. if you've learned to solve first and second order ODE's and also how to use power series for DE's, you're pretty much set for undergrad (at least in my experience).

    the complex analysis class will be useful. you might not have to solve too many contour integrals as an undergrad, but it appears to be a rather important tool of the trade, regardless.

    probability theory could prove to be useful for a little bit of stat mech. my course in stat mech covered a little bit of binomial and poisson distributions, so my probability course helped with that (and was also total overkill for that purpose!).

    no experience yet with the utility of real analysis, but i've gotten through all of the undergrad physics coursework (excepting the advanced lab classes) without it, fwiw.
  11. Jul 22, 2007 #10
    I'm also taking Math Methods for Physics, and Linear Algebra (upperdiv, proof based)

    Heres the description of the class:
    Selected topics in differential equations. Laplace transforms, existence and uniqueness theorems, Fourier series, separation of variable solutions to partial differential equations, Sturm/Liouville theory, calculus of variations, two-point boundary value problems, Green's functions.
  12. Jul 22, 2007 #11
    you're lucky, math physics isn't offered at my school till the spring :cry:
    that sounds like a lot more than just uniqueness and existence and it sounds like a lot of useful stuff. take that
  13. Jul 22, 2007 #12
    that seems to cover alot of pde stuff as well it would be good course to take.
  14. Jul 22, 2007 #13

    Dr Transport

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    This is a worthwhile DE course as long as it isn't existence and uniqueness proofs.
  15. Jul 22, 2007 #14
    ok so I'll definitely take the ODE class. It seems that to most of you guys that I shouldn't take the probability class. so whats better to take first: complex or real analysis?

    My guess is that real analysis is because some other math classes have it as a prereq, but I could be wrong
  16. Jul 22, 2007 #15


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    You should try and learn real analysis before complex analysis.
  17. Jul 24, 2007 #16
    if you wouldn't mind, could you provide us with the course descriptions of the complex and real analysis classes?

    sure, a lot of math classes might have real analysis as a prereq, but they're more likely to be the pure math classes that a physicist could certainly live without (except for formal theorists, who apparently need the "kitchen sink").
  18. Jul 24, 2007 #17
    Complex Analysis for Applications
    Introduction to basic formulas and calculation procedures of complex analysis of one variable relevant to applications. Topics include Cauchy/Riemann equations, Cauchy integral formula, power series expansion, contour integrals, residue calculus.

    Rigorous introduction to foundations of real analysis; real numbers, point set topology in Euclidean space, functions, continuity.
  19. Jul 24, 2007 #18
    Definitely take ODE, you'll need it for PDE and differential geometry later and should have a solid understanding of operational calculus as early in your education as possible
  20. Jul 25, 2007 #19
    the complex analysis appears to be pretty much the same as UF's "functions of a complex variable," which was primarily a computation-based course.

    i would go with that. contour integrals are an essential tool, whereas you can get by without proving everything about real numbers. ;)
  21. Aug 3, 2007 #20
    I just spoke to one of my advisors at orientation and I have to take a lower-div physics class on stat mechanics and quantum mechanics. It's a little more advance than the standard lower-div modern physics course. So the two classes I'll take for sure are Math Methods and "Elements of Quantum Mech and Statistical Mech".

    I need at least 1 more class to meet the minimum number of units. I wanted to choose an upper-div math class, but he advised that I take a upper-div GE class instead because its my 1st quarter at a university, and its best that I start off with easy A's. I have to adjust to the new social life, etc. Should I trust him on this? Or is it definitely possible to do well with my 2 physics and 1 math class?
  22. Aug 3, 2007 #21

    Math Is Hard

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    Hey proton, you're at UCLA, right? I suggest going easy just for your first quarter. Give yourself a little time to "get the lay of the land."
  23. Aug 13, 2007 #22
    ok I've decided I want to take 1 math class. I can only take either Linear algebra , analysis, or complex analysis. Which would be better to take as my first upper-div math course?
  24. Aug 13, 2007 #23
    Complex Analysis would be an excellent choice if you already have a familiarity with proof technique; however, it might be a difficult leap at first.

    Linear Algebra is a tried and true course that, at least from what I hear, is generally a computationally intensive course, but little is done about rigor.

    Analysis is generally consitered the hardest first upper division class because it is primarily forcing yourself to work through material you already have seen to gain a deeper understanding; however, a large amount of proofing finese can be necessary.
  25. Aug 13, 2007 #24
    my linear algebra class was very much proof-based.
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