# Studying Studying Physics or Mathematics content first?

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1. Jan 16, 2017

### Liam Lau

Hi, I'm a student in the UK and am going on to study Physics at university next year. I enjoy self-study and was wondering which approach would be best, whether to read the physics content first or learn mathematical techniques first ( real and complex analysis etc.) Moreover, I wasn't sure whether to take notes on this extra maths material- I have had mixed messages from teachers and friends, some find taking notes quite cumbersome and just do some exercises and seem to remember everything alright, but some take notes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

2. Jan 16, 2017

### Staff: Mentor

In my opinion mathematics (analysis) should be more suitable to self-study. Furthermore analysis will become your natural habitat in physics, so you will have to learn it anyway. As it is usually a rather different approach from how it is dealt with at school, you might get some difficulties (not necessarily, but eventually). In this case I'd say you should switch to physics, as the mathematics in there (I assume classical mechanics) is closer to what appeared at school. Maybe it's written in a different way, but basically by similar means. Wikipedia is a good source to look up symbols or definitions you're unfamiliar with. Of course this is a personal view and guided by what's practical, so it might happen that one or the other will make more fun, or you're more curious about. Both, but even more the latter, are good conditions to start learning. Thus whatever provides you with more of them, you should choose. I wouldn't start with complex analysis (except perhaps some complex arithmetic), as it's quite different from the real case, and one should get used to the techniques first.

3. Jan 16, 2017

### Liam Lau

Thank you for your insight. I'm currently doing some linear algebra, complex arithmetic - nothing really difficult: just transformations onto the complex plane and De Moivre's theorem. I need to look into analysis, as you mentioned, and really more into classical mechanics. I always neglect classical mechanics (I know that's bad) to favour quantum mechanics and differential geometry to set me up for General relativity.

Just one question, when you self taught maths or some physical concepts, did you always make notes on it?

4. Jan 16, 2017

### Staff: Mentor

Sounds like a good plan. And I know, that GR, QM and differential geometry are far more exciting than Newton's mechanics. But you would be surprised how many questions here about GR can actually already be answered by good old Isaac.

I always write down things as it helps me a lot to better memorize it. Similar is true to drawings and scribbles. Try to get a picture from the stuff you read. It doesn't have to be perfect, just as much as is needed to grasp the principle behind.

5. Jan 17, 2017

### Liam Lau

Thanks for all the advice!