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Should one take Calculus III, Linear Algebra, DiffyQ ,E&M all in semester?

  1. Aug 19, 2009 #1
    Am I setting myself up for disaster? Here is my current Fall 09 schedule:

    Calculus III (Honors)
    differential equations (Honors)
    E&M (Would do honors if they offered the section this Fall)
    Linear Algebra (Honors)

    Mind you, this is at a community college (so think of honors as somewhat decent university course)

    I was wondering if anyone ever did this or know of anyone who has ever tried to take 4 very technical courses in one term. This totals to 17 semester hours.

    I manage my time pretty well (and I don't have a job) and I also have a deep passion for math (I'm a physics/math major).

    Besides that, even if I am capable of handling the load -- maybe I'm making a crucial mistake taking too many fundamental courses at once? Maybe I should cut one and substitute it for a humanities/lighter course/elective?

    Calculus III is your standard freshmen/sophomore course in calculus of several variables (including vector calculus). The differential course is a lower division first course in ODE's, and the E&M course (is a an introductory calculus based Electricity and Magnetism course)

    Has anyone done this before? Share your experiences...

    Thanks, a thoughtful insights/responses would be very appreciative.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 20, 2009 #2
    Since you take the EM and calc 3 at the same time I guess it is a low level EM course which means that it will be fine. If it was using Griffiths then it would be a bit tough but as that it should be just fine.

    And mind you, here in Europe everyone has to study 100% technical courses if we want to get a technical degree so that is just the course load for a normal student.
  4. Aug 20, 2009 #3
    During my freshman year I took differential equations, calc 3, English, and third quarter intro physics in one quarter. This was time consuming to say the least, but doable. My only concern would be whether or not you will devote as much time to each class as you would with a less substantial course load. Personally during this quarter I did quite well; however, I feel that I could have learned the subjects slightly better had I taken fewer courses.

    In the end its a matter of devoting the necessary time to excel. With self discipline, I believe you will do fine
  5. Aug 20, 2009 #4
    Thanks for your responses, guys!
  6. Aug 20, 2009 #5
    I have studied all those listed subjects (formally or informally) and i do think they can be done. In my post below, i'm putting Calc III at the center...well, because it interrelates the most.

    your introductory DE (Differential Equations) course will have 95% of ODE (Ordinary Differential Equations)...and perhaps there might be one chapter in PDE (Partial Differential Equations) at the end. For ODE part you'll use derivative concept you learned in calc I (and of course integrals from calc II); but for PDE you'll be required to know partial derivatives, which you learn a little more than 1/3 way into your Calc III course. Don't panic though, partial derivatives is easy...and you'll have plenty of time to work it through before you use it in DE course.

    the main thing you need from Calc III for your E&M course is picturing 3D. You need to be able to think in 3 Dimensions. You'll need them early in your E&M course...but you won't be getting detail peek view of 3D in Calc III until like a little before 1/2 way through the course. But this isn't a big deal either. If you have used some short of computer program that works with 3D you are already good to go. If not, you can just grab an object and view it from all angles lol.

    As far as Linear Algebra is concerned, well you don't need anything from calculus, let along calc III. Linear Algebra has no correlation with DE and E&M either.

    Lastly, for a good portion of time in your calc III (say 1/3 of your course), you'll be doing vectors. Stuff like vector addition, subtraction, dot product, cross product that you learned in Physics I (Mechanics) will come handy now!

    P.S. You'll need to work extra on this though...but it'll be worth it. If you are not sure you can do this, change your schedule but for your own sake don't blow ANY of these courses. Those three Maths courses are pretty much the backbone of Physics.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2009
  7. Aug 20, 2009 #6
    Thanks for the advice! Much appreciated!
  8. Aug 21, 2009 #7


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    Hmm so actually learning the subjects properly seems an issue. I will be in a similar situation this semester starting monday. I will be taking 6 classes and 2 labs all technical.

    Needless to say I'm aiming for an A in them all but I truly want to learn these subjects to the best of my ability. Any tips?
  9. Aug 21, 2009 #8
    You'll have to start a new topic for that one, unless you're taking exact same courses.

    Last edited: Aug 21, 2009
  10. Aug 21, 2009 #9
    Thanks for your response, btw
  11. Aug 21, 2009 #10
    This is just plain false. Linear Algebra and elementary DE are intimately related and in many universities (though not mine) combine introductions to both into once course. There are many things you need linear algebra for in DE, even at a basic level.
  12. Aug 21, 2009 #11


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    You mean that mixture course that comes after two or three semesters of Calculus which has a quick view of simple differential equations and another quick view of too many things about linear algebra done too fast? I never saw the connection between linear Algebra and the differential equations. Maybe the examples used and exercises were overly simplified. This course combining the two seemed like two separate unrelated courses shoved together into one course.
  13. Aug 21, 2009 #12


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    There was no way one could survive the second half of my differential equations course without knowing Linear Algebra fundamentals.

    Inverse matrices, eigen values/vecters -just to name a few - were all required.

    I am not sure what diff eq. course symbolipoint and rubrix refer to.
  14. Aug 21, 2009 #13


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    Rubrix described the impression more than somewhat as I found in the my sequence of Math courses. The combination course which I refer to is one which gives an introduction to ordinary differential equations with no reference to any linear algebra; and then a brief half-semester length of linear algebra, like an introduction - NOT a full course of linear algebra. The linear algebra component of this course made absolutely no reference to differential equations. Students who would want a regular course on differential equations, ordinary or otherwise, generally are expected to do the combination course first, as prerequisite. Students who would want a regular semester long linear algebra course are also expected to first complete that same combination course as a prerequisite.

    The way my impression differs from Rubrix's is that the sequence of courses which I went through seemed to sequentially build on eachother: Calculus 3 depended very much on Calc.2, and Calc. 2 depended very much on Calc. 1. Calc. 3 was a multivariable course including vectors, partial derivatives, and other things.

    Rubrix, if you are reading this post, you thought my descriptions of my sequence were vague. We used an earlier edition of the Larson & Hostetler book for Calc. 1, 2, an 3, if that helps any. This was not something very recent.
  15. Aug 22, 2009 #14
    I was going to post a similar question, but I guess I'll use this thread instead since it is closely related and while trying not to derail it.

    I too will be taking linear algebra, Differential Equations, and Electricity and Magnetism (using Halliday and Resnick) this semester.

    I originally was going to take e&m last semester but put it on hold to finish CalcIII instead. Now that I'm finished with that course, I am looking to take intro e&m which I heard was vector calculus heavy.

    My question, is what do some of you feel will be the main elements of CalcIII in intro e&m? What concepts and methods should I have down?
  16. Aug 22, 2009 #15
    i'm not sure what "the second half of my differential equations course" is supposed to mean. To begin with what is the first part? If you are saying first part is ODE and second part is PDE then i incline to agree with you.

    Eigen values/vectors come when PDE talk begins...and as i said before in this course of concern (Introductory Differential course) 95% is ODE.

    okay "Linear Algebra has no correlation with DE" statement is not true, i'll give you that. But on my defense, i was over simplifying things. There is no point in say Linear Algebra (1 to be precise) and DE course (ODE course to be precise) are related by 0.1%

    I took LA before my Introductory DE course and eigenvector/eigenvalue was pretty much the only relevance there was....even then the methods used to find them were completely different. One could completely ignore what they learned in LA and do well in ODE.

    ditto, that's how Calc 1, 2, 3 goes here as well.

    i agree.

    is https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0..._m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0XYNX49YJTW0AEAN8H80 (amazon link) the book we are talking about? If so i just took a preview of the book and the content looks much similar to what i studied.

    At our university, the prerequisites for this course is Calculus II, needless to say they don't expect to know 3D stuff. However, it's good to know them already. It will help if you already know basics like vector addition/subtraction, dot product, cross product etc and are able to picturize in 3D...but since you already did Calc III, that should be a piece of cake to you.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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