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Starting Math/Physics Major

  1. Mar 13, 2009 #1
    Hello all.
    I recently decided I was going to go back to school at the U of Akron this fall, declaring a double major of Applied mathematics, and physics. I've been out of any sort of schooling around 7 years, other than the Air Force teaching me Arabic. I will have to take the COMPASS math placement test at some point before I go back, to see which math i should start at. The highest math I have completed so far was pre-calc in high school, which i sort of failed, due to my lack of caring about anything school then. However, I know I am capable of any of this if I try, and prior to that class, maths and science has always come pretty easily to me(won a few silly little math competitions in grade school/jr high, and got an 800 on the math part of the SAT.)
    I was wondering if any of you had any advice on what sorts of stuff might help get me situated for the placement test, and if you think it would be worth it to try to place into the calc 1 class, or just do the precalc class to get a better foundation.
    I picked up Blitzer's College Algebra online for like 3 bucks, so that should be a pretty decent refresher for the algebra side of things.
    Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2009 #2
    Calculus requires a solid foundation in pre-calc. It's up to you to decide if you want to study it on your own or take a refresher class. Maybe pick up a pre-calc textbook and see how comfortable you are with the material.
     
  4. Mar 14, 2009 #3

    djeitnstine

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    i agree with owl. Because working without a precalculus foundation will possibly leave many questions unanswered and important ideas un-learned
     
  5. Mar 24, 2009 #4
    Hey, thanks for the replies!
    So, here is what has happened so far. I picked up a precalc text book, and found that most of the stuff i've looked at in it came back fairly quickly. I spoke with the chair of the physics department at the school, as well as one of the math professors, and they both recommended that I try to just take the COMPASS placement test, and try to place into calc 1, and take that over the summer, instead of pre-calc, since the elementary physics class has that as a prereq. I did this, and ended up placing into calc 1, which i then signed up for this summer. I also got all the course materials and syllabus for the precalc class they have, so that I can just go over that stuff before the class this summer.
    My only concern now, though it is by no means a pressing matter, is whether go with the applied math route, or to go with the pure math. I've got about 3 or four semesters until that choice really matters, though.
    My thoughts(which may be very wrong), are that if I go the pure math route, I would be able to go deeper into the math, while at the same time learning how to apply the methods in the actual physics classes. If I go the applied math route, it seems like it might be redundant, learning the techniques to apply the math in both the applied math classes, and the physics classes. Any advice on this would be great.
    But, like I said, the applied math and the pure math are pretty much the same for the first 4 semesters, going calc 1-3, then differential equations(i think).
    I know that the total credits required for a double major with pure math would be more than the applied math, but I am able to waive/buy the credits for the language requirement, and I already have some gened stuff done from 7 years ago.
     
  6. Mar 24, 2009 #5

    djeitnstine

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    For some of the pure math courses your thoughts are correct. However, there is a division between pure and applied maths, hence the name. Many of the techniques taught in a pure math class have no physical relevance and will even be useless in your physics courses. I have also entertained this idea once until I realized that I would be learning 'extra math puffery' so to speak, when my math inclination rested on mathematically modeled physical processes.

    Just to let you know the 2 routes are not the same and many methods are not 'cross applicable'
     
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