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Need help regarding my grade

  1. May 16, 2012 #1

    I just finished my Linear Algebra (A-level) class and I'm ending up with a C to a BC, and am wondering if I should retake it. If this is of any relation, but I got the C because I'm still trying to get adjusted to college life (I'm a freshman.) My intended major is applied mathematics.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2012 #2

    In applied math you can use ODEs, PDEs, Linear Alg, Programming, and Engineering type applications. I am working on a MS in Applied Math, and at my program, we have more programming and ODEs and PDEs. However, we program MatLab. So Linear Alg isn't presence in many of my classes. However, I can use it (Lin Alg) to solve a problem even though it could be done with another method.

    The answer to your question is it depends. Will you be attending grad school in applied math? If so, what will the focus be on? More programming, more DEs, Linear Alg problems, Engineering?

    If I was in your shoes, I would probably re-take. If this was a Number Theory class and I know I wasn't going into pure math, I would take the C-BC.
  4. May 21, 2012 #3
    Hey thanks for the reply. I do intend to go to graduate school. My main interest is numerical methods. Later on I plan tot ake Numerical Analysis, Numerical Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, etc. Though I was given a C for my grade, I feel that a good portion of the tests were proofs (which I am not good at) and was a contributing factor to my decrepid grade.
  5. May 21, 2012 #4
    Get better at them. Proofs are what mathematics is all about.
    Even if you go into a purely applied area of mathematics, you won't be able to do anything novel or innovative (read: your job) without being comfortable with proofs. A good course in abstract algebra will cure what ails you.
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  6. May 21, 2012 #5
    Thanks again for the info. I do plan to get better with proofs, even though they are tough, I do find them interesting. Btw how difficult is ODE compared to LA?
  7. May 21, 2012 #6
    Hard to say. Intro. linear algebra tends to be more dense and abstract than introductory ODE's, but is computationally and technically much simpler once you wrap your head around the theory; ODE, on the other hand, will offer you next to no theory or abstraction, and will consist mostly of a long list of different kinds of equations and associated techniques required to solve them. It's mostly a "cookbook" course.

    It would be worthwhile, I think, to pick up a book like Arnold's Ordinary Differential Equations to read alongside the course text if you take ODE's. It's probably a bit too challenging to study on your own at this point, but it will place a lot of what you're learning in a larger context and give you a lot of the theory that the course itself will almost certainly ignore. Eventually, you'll want to work through the book in its entirety.
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  8. May 22, 2012 #7
    Hey, thanks for all the feedback, really appreciate it. That book looks pretty dense. (ok, I'm a freshman lol)
  9. May 22, 2012 #8
    No need to work through through it right now, but it's something you'll definitely want to work towards (even if you're studying applied mathematics). If your school has an "introduction to proofs" or "introduction to higher mathematics" course, I strongly recommend taking it as soon as possible; it will help you become comfortable with the kind of abstraction you encounter in courses like LA.
  10. May 30, 2012 #9
    I found Linear Algebra to be more abstract and more difficult in that sense, but I had more trouble with the exams in ODE. I studied for 10 hours for one exam in ODE, which was an absurd amount compared to how much I normally study. I think one reason it was so confusing to me was that I could push through the algorithms if I had the book in front of me, but I didn't really have a deep understanding of how or why anything actually worked. Part of it was also that our professor was new and our textbook was terrible. (If someone tries to use Borelli and Coleman on you, RUN THE OTHER WAY. Or buy a better book to supplement with.)
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