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Set Theory Vs. EM2

  1. Nov 28, 2011 #1
    Hello all,

    I'm trying to decide my courses for next semester and I'm all set except for a choice between EM2 and set theory. I've had both teachers before, and the set theory teacher is a lot better. I need EM2 for my major, but I'm afraid I'll be wasting the opportunity to take a fun class since they are offered at the same time. As a physics major do you think I can get away with not taking EM2 until my senior year (it is not a prereq for any other courses), or would I just be better off taking it now?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2011 #2
    Well I guess that depends. Do you want to take the hardest physics major course with the other hardest physics major course, quantum? Might not want to risk that senior year. I know people who have taken very heavy course loads in math and physics and none of them recommended E&M and QM at the same time.
  4. Nov 29, 2011 #3
    I am currently taking Set Theory. Since you are a physics major, I recommend E&M over Set Theory. I think Set Theory is interesting, but to be honest, its applications are primarily as the foundation for more mathematics, such as topology. It is important to understand some of the subtleties of set theory, but the entire point of the class I am taking is to become familiar with posets, deMorgan's Laws, lattices, cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers, the axiom of choice and why it is equivalent to Zorn's lemma and the well-ordering principle. You have been using the axiom of choice for your entire life, and you are probably ok with it. You also are probably familiar with the idea of cardinal numbers and set cardinality. You have likely never heard of ordinals, and will probably never use them in physics unless you are doing some bizarre theoretical work. Basically, to get a good enough background in set theory for physics applications, I'd recommend simply reading about set cardinality and deMorgan's Laws.
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