• Support PF! Buy your school textbooks, materials and every day products via PF Here!

Courses On the benefits of retaking advanced linear algebra

14
4
I'm a physics student who has the option to take some advanced math courses (Real analysis through Rudin and beyond, functional analysis if I have time, as well as algebra through Artin). I'm only just going into my second year this term, and will either be retaking linear algebra 2, or taking group theory.

I just completed advanced linear algebra (fundamental theorem, isomorphisms, principal axis, shurs theorem, spectral theorems, gram schmidt, SVD, quadratic forms, etc), and got between 55-60. Now this course is known for being tough: it often has a 20-25% failure rate and a class average in the low, low 60s (which is barely a C by Canadian scales).

I didn't manage my time properly and didn't study for a big chapter on applications (SVD, linear regression, minimization). To my bad luck, 30% or more of the final exam was based on those bits. If I had ground out an hour or two of practice computation questions I would have had a 70 in the course at the very least.

Luckily, my gpa is measured by percentage: It will only go down by 1% this term by my current estimate since I got an 89 in quantum physics 1, and I have the ability to raise it to somewhere in the 80s by the time i am applying to grad schools (which is enough for the schools I'm interested in according to most professors and students I talk to).

My main question is: Should I retake lin alg next term and try to get an 80+? I understand the content of the course on the pure math side, and I can almost definitely succeed in the following math courses. I just don't know whether it will look better to retake a course, or to go on and take the next one regardless.

Thanks for any advice!
 

FactChecker

Science Advisor
Gold Member
2018 Award
5,086
1,790
My two cents: Learn the material you were weak on by self-study and move on. But do not cut corners in understanding linear algebra. It is fundamental.
 

fresh_42

Mentor
Insights Author
2018 Award
11,561
8,015
All are important for physicists:
  • real analysis
  • functional analysis
  • linear algebra 2
Group theory is a bit different. Beside the easy examples ##\mathbb{Z}\; , \;\mathbb{Z}_2\; , \;(\mathbb{R},+)\; , \;\mathcal{Sym}(n)## it are mainly the linear groups which are used in physics. But group theory often means theory of finite groups, and detailed knowledge about them is rarely required for a physicist. So if it was a lecture about linear group, geometric groups, algebraic groups or how ever the subgroups of ##GL(n,\mathbb{F})## are called, I would answer: good idea. But the few occasions you really need classical group theory in physics can be learnt on demand (IMO) - orbit-stabilizer formula, normal subgroups, center, isomorphism theorems.
 

Want to reply to this thread?

"On the benefits of retaking advanced linear algebra" You must log in or register to reply here.

Related Threads for: On the benefits of retaking advanced linear algebra

  • Posted
Replies
15
Views
3K
Replies
7
Views
2K
Replies
4
Views
647
Replies
6
Views
15K
Replies
0
Views
2K
Replies
2
Views
960

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving
Top