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New "Freshman" Physics (BS) Major

  1. Oct 7, 2014 #1
    Hello, PhysicsForums members!

    I made a previous thread on this forum entitled "From Music to Math", and I have decided after being in a "Physics Education" track for half a semester, I have decided I am going to pursue a BS in Physics.

    I am actually a Sophomore by year; so, since I studied music the previous year with dual-enrollment credits, many of my FKL classes are completed. Therefore, I need to add minors to stay full-time in my coursework. I picked Mathematics and Literary Studies.

    A question on the math minor: The preliminary coursework covers the Calculus sequence, along with:
    Bridge to Abstract Mathematics, Linear Algebra, and Vector Calculus.

    Along with the preliminary courses, I can choose 2 of the following: (I apologize for a somewhat lengthy list)
    • Symbolic Computations in Mathematics
    • Intermediate Analysis I
    • Intermediate Analysis II
    • Complex Variables
    • Numerical Analysis I
    • Numerical Analysis II
    • Theory of Computation
    • Differential Equations
    • Optimization
    • Elementary Abstract Algebra
    • History of Modern Mathematics
    • Modern Geometry
    • Introduction to Topology
    • Essentials of Statistics
    • Introduction to Probability
    I already take a Statistical Physics course, so I would rather not take another course in Statistics. What two from this list would you all recommend to pick? These last two courses would be taken in my final year of study.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 7, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Your physics major probably requires Differential Equations anyway, so that's one course. I'd suggest Complex Variables for the other one, if you're planning to go on to grad school in physics. When I was in grad school, I found myself wishing I had had a course in complex variables, and I ended up taking one there.
  4. Oct 7, 2014 #3
    As jtbell said, your physics major probably requires differential equations. If it doesn't, take it anyway, that's a no-brainer. For the other one, I would recommend either complex variables or essentials of statistics (something that would come in handy if you're doing experimental work).
  5. Oct 8, 2014 #4


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    Gold Member

    You probably should take Differential Equations and Complex Variables or Abstract Algebra. Another option is taking numerical analysis.
  6. Oct 8, 2014 #5
    The physics class in math methods already has differential equations covered in length, with direct applications to the field. I'm thinking the reason my program doesn't require a separate class in Diff Eq is due to this class covering the subject directly.

    Would it be good to go more in-depth in the subject, or delve into two other classes on the list?
  7. Oct 8, 2014 #6


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    Gold Member

    Unless you are interested in the subject, it is fine to choose other courses. However, you should check if more advanced physics courses in your interest require the Differential Equations course.
  8. Oct 9, 2014 #7


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Education Advisor

    What else does the math methods class cover? I'd expect it to cover complex analysis.

    Doesn't the topology class have analysis as a pre-requisite?

    Statistics and statistical physics are different subjects. Don't rule out statistics just yet. Probability would be useful, but it might be covered in the statistical physics class.

    Numerical analysis could be useful.
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