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Physics curriculum w/out linear algebra?

  1. Dec 22, 2012 #1
    My school does not require physics majors to take linear algebra. I've noticed that some schools have a course called "differential equations and linear algebra" that is taken after the calc sequence but we only have to take ODE. There is a matrix theory class that math majors take that I've been considering but is it really necessary? There is also a math methods course offered through the physics department but I think it mainly covers complex analysis. Am I cutting myself short by not taking a formal linear algebra class?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2012 #2


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    You probably don't need to take a proper linear algebra class from the Math department because I suspect taking the math methods course within your own department will be sufficient. I would personally grab the linear algebra text to study on the side, however. It probably depends greatly on exactly what gets taught in the physics course.
  4. Dec 22, 2012 #3
    A lot depends on what you want to do. If you're interested in QM and if you want to do research in it, then I think that a linear algebra course is really a must. Things really make more sense if you have gone through a rigorous LA course.

    If your interests are not very theoretical, then you can probably do without a formal LA course.
  5. Dec 22, 2012 #4
    My school doesn't require a formal linear algebra course from the math department for physics and engineering majors but every professor strongly encourages taking it as an elective. The math methods course teaches you matrix methods, calculations, eigenvalue problems, etc; if you want to be a theorist I would take it in the math department; an experimentalist maybe the methods course is all you need. I think you'd be cutting yourself short but I'm an experimentalist who likes his mathematical rigor.
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