Necessary maths for undergraduate physics

In summary, the conversation discusses the necessary math skills for a physics BSc in the UK, including pure math, mechanics, and statistics. The speaker recommends brushing up on basic probability, probability distributions, and measures of central tendency and spread. They also mention the importance of hypothesis testing and provide recommendations for reading and coding. There is a discussion about the relevance of statistics in first-year quantum mechanics and the essential topics for completing a BS in physics. The speaker also mentions the courses typically taken in mathematical physics.
  • #1
maxim07
53
8
I’m starting a physics BSc in the Uk in September, just brushing up on some maths skills before. To speed the process up I’m wondering what maths is not absolutely necessary.

I‘m brushing up on all pure ,ash’s and mechanics, but statistics is included in the UK A level too which I am not too strong at.

I’m assuming a knowledge of basic probability, probability distributions (normal and binomial distributions are covered in the a level) and a knowledge of measures of central tendency, spread and correlation are going to be necessary.

what about things like box and whisker plots, histograms and cumulative frequency diagrams, will a knowledge of these ever be needed. Also what about hypothesis testing?
 
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  • #2
Is there a summer reading list for your course? Follow that because it will be tailored to fit in with your first-term courses.

Hypothesis testing is really important, but because stats content varies between A-levels this is likely to be well covered in the first term.

Read and/or watch Feynman. Learn how to code, in Python and ideally Matlab. Try to keep up/get into a habit of study, recreation, sleep and taking care of yourself.
 
  • #3
pbuk said:
Hypothesis testing is really important, but because stats content varies between A-levels this is likely to be well covered in the first term.
Thanks, I’ll have a look for a reading list. I’m guessing this applies not just to statistics but all of the A-level maths, and you are given time to review ideas learned at a level not thrown in the deep end?

Also, I’m assuming that hypothesis testing and data representation is mainly going to be important in lab work which is all coursework based. But what statistics is going to be useful in first year quantum mechanics?
 
  • #4
Calculus, ODE, PDE, Complex Analysis, Geomtry/Trig, Linear Algebra. Probability and it's distributions. Should serve you well.

I am not sure what one learns in math methods course, since I dueled majored in Math (pure) and Physics. So I read the applications as I needed them. But, essentially for those majoring in physics, you pick up what you need, but the above topics are the essential one needs to complete a BS in Physics.
 
  • #5
MidgetDwarf said:
I am not sure what one learns in math methods course, since I dueled majored in Math (pure) and Physics.
At my son's school Mathematical Physics I is predominantly PDE. Mathematical Physics II is a combination of Complex Analysis and Stats/Probability. There are separate courses for Calc I-III, Lin Alg I, and ODE.
 

Related to Necessary maths for undergraduate physics

1. What level of math is necessary for undergraduate physics?

The necessary level of math for undergraduate physics includes calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. It is also helpful to have a strong foundation in algebra and trigonometry.

2. How important is math in understanding physics?

Math is essential for understanding physics. It is the language used to describe the laws and principles of physics and is necessary for solving complex problems and making accurate predictions.

3. Can I succeed in physics if I am not good at math?

While a strong understanding of math is important for success in physics, it is possible to improve your math skills through practice and dedication. Many universities also offer resources such as tutoring and study groups to help students improve their math abilities.

4. What are some specific mathematical concepts used in undergraduate physics?

Some specific mathematical concepts used in undergraduate physics include vector calculus, complex numbers, and differential equations. These concepts are used to describe and solve problems related to motion, forces, energy, and other fundamental principles of physics.

5. Are there any resources available to help me improve my math skills for physics?

Yes, there are many resources available to help students improve their math skills for physics. These may include textbooks, online tutorials, practice problems, and peer tutoring. It is also helpful to seek guidance from your professors or academic advisors for additional resources and support.

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