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Studying Some guide would be very much appreciated!

  1. Sep 5, 2016 #1
    Hi guys,

    I'm currently going into my 3rd year of Chemistry. Due to the course my life has taken, when I did my A-levels I had no idea that theoretical chemistry/physics would be an area I would like to pursue.
    I didn't take an A-level in Mathematics, but am currently working through A-level type calculus, differentiation, integration, differential equations. Will also be covering complex numbers, matrices and vectors.
    The advice I would like is in relation to my PhD... Do you think somebody with my background could excel and pursue theoretical chemistry as a career? I'm a good student, have won a number of academic awards throughout the Chemistry degree, I'm just concerned that my lack of mathematical training will hinder me. I'm trying to power through as many topics as possible, but I am still worried that I won't be able to have my desired career in Chemical Physics.

    Any responses appreciated,

    PT
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2016 #2

    DrSteve

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    Aren't you making up for some of the supposed lack of mathematical training by your present studies?
     
  4. Sep 5, 2016 #3
    Well, I wouldn't say the level of mathematics in the chemistry degree even roughly equates to what is needed to study for a PhD in theoretical chemistry. We covered elementary calculus in first year, but differential equations, matrices, linear algebra, nothing. This is why I'm concerned.
     
  5. Sep 5, 2016 #4

    DrSteve

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    Then I'm confused by your statement
    Aren't you involved in some self-teaching at the moment?
     
  6. Sep 5, 2016 #5
    I thought you were referring to my degree! Apologies! I am working through that list of things at the moment, but understanding 'What do I need to know' in the field of mathematics feels daunting.
    For example, solving problems such as particle in a box, particle on a ring, rigid rotor, they are still above my ability. Yes I'm sat here with very high grades in my degree, but surely my inability to solve them at the moment shows a career in theoretical chemistry/chemical physics shouldn't be considered...
     
  7. Sep 5, 2016 #6

    DrSteve

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    Do you feel that you will be better equipped after you complete your self-training? I would surely think so.
     
  8. Sep 5, 2016 #7
    I do indeed, but where my concerns truly sit is in relation to the PhD program. Is two years enough time to become as mathematically well equipped as a final year physics student? That's what is hard to understand.
     
  9. Sep 5, 2016 #8

    DrSteve

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    Probably not, but at least you'll be a lot closer. I would recommend, in addition, the serious study of linear algebra and partial differential equations. This should catch you up.
     
  10. Sep 5, 2016 #9
    Okay brilliant, thanks! Would you say that elementary single variable calculus is a satisfactory precursor to studying linear algebra and PDE's?
     
  11. Sep 5, 2016 #10

    DrSteve

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    In an ideal word, no, but in the practical world we live in, yes. You'll get plenty of exposure to 3-d analysis in both of the recommended subjects.
     
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