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Need advice to get order in my study

  1. Mar 27, 2015 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I'll try to explain my situation as quickly as possible:
    I will be starting a B.Sc. in Physics at a German university in 2 weeks.

    I will be beginning in the second semester, so this semester I'll begin with "Electromagnetism" (Physics II), and next semester I'll be learning "Classical Mechanics & Thermodynamics" (Physics I) and "Optics, Analytical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics" (Physics III) at the same time, to catch up. I will also learn Maths II (Linear Algebra, I guess) before Maths I (Calculus, I guess).

    Knowing this, I tried to prepare myself a bit, and I reviewed Chapters 1-20 of "University Physics", certainly a bit too quickly, but the idea was to get an idea of what is in Physics I and at least grasp the main ideas.

    Additionally, I have now begun to read "Calculus" by Spivak, which I intend to read thoroughly, to build good maths foundations.

    Now I'm thinking of also preparing for the E&M Course, by watching some Walter Lewin lectures on this topic. The idea is not to learn it very deeply already (which the course will be for), but to already get an idea of what's coming, so that the lectures won't be completely new. During the semester, I plan to also review the topic seen in the lectures in "University Physics", to get another point of view of the same topic, to learn it in English, and also simply to refresh and summarize the topics.

    Well, that's pretty much my plan for the moment, but I'm not so sure these are all good ideas as the situation is a bit special (starting in the second semester). For the maths, I have a solid High school foundation, as I had 8 hours of maths/week, but this doesn't go well beyond derivation, integration, complex numbers etc of course.

    Maybe you have some idea how to improve my studying? Or just some advice you feel could help me? Would all be welcome.

    Feel free to ask if my English wasn't clear somewhere.

    Best wishes,
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2015 #2
    Why are you reading Spivak? Do you know calculus already?
  4. Mar 29, 2015 #3
    I looked at Spivak because I saw it recommended, and as it looked nice I decided to pick it.

    What do you mean exactly by "knowing" calculus? As I wrote, I've only had high school math until now, even if it was a bit more than average people have (8 hours/week).

    Would you recommend another book? What I've also been asking myself is: should a physics student read "special" calculus books (and in general, "special" math books)?
  5. Mar 29, 2015 #4
    Have you already taken a course that covers differentiation and integration.

    No, it's not necessary. But definitely do it if you're interested in going deeper in math
  6. Mar 30, 2015 #5
    Yes, we covered differentiation and integration in high school.

    What I meant was if it is recommended to take up some "Maths for physicists" or "Calculus for physicists" book rather than standard Math/Calculus books?

    Btw, thanks for your answers Micromass!
  7. Mar 30, 2015 #6
    It's up to you really. Spivak is a very beautiful book, but also very difficult and challenging. It is certainly not directly necessary for physicists. So if you're thinking of doing a "math for physicists" book, then you could very well do that. If you're interested in the mathematics behind the physics, or if you're going to study mathematical physics, then you could think about doing Spivak. But again, it's not an easy book.

    So it's up to you really. But definitely expect to spend quite some time on Spivak if you choose to do it.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
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