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Courses Taking 3 Math courses in the same quarter

  1. Jan 26, 2012 #1
    Hi, I'm a freshman undergrad and I want to declare major in physics. Even though the department counselor wants me to take 1 math classes at a time, the summer schedule doesn't really fit together since one math class has a time conflict with another physics class (plus I'm being stubborn). I also want to take some graduate courses later on if I finish fast.
    So I'm wondering, is it okay to take: Calculus of Several Variable (Part B), Linear Algebra and Application, and Differential Equation at the same time? They're all in engineering and physical science math series. My school has a quarter system (10 weeks + 1 Final week). Together they're 12 units, and if I add one general education course, they'll add up to 17 units; that doesn't sound too bad for me.
    Probably I will be stressed out facing math all the time, that's okay with me. I can do other stuff to blow up my engine. My main concern, however, is my understanding of the subject. Will it be the same as taking it one at a time so it'll be build up over time?

    Your opinion will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you. :smile:

    Note: I checked and none of them are prerequisite of each other. Although it says in the course description that taking Linear Algebra before Diff Eq is highly recommended.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 26, 2012 #2
    I recently took a combined course with Linear Algebra and Diffy Q and it was a bit frustrating. The subjects do tie together well but if I could do it differently I would have at least taken them as separate courses and in the best situation I would take LA before Diffy Q. For me, LA had some challenging concepts and while I was learning Diffy Qs at the same time it made it more difficult. Diffy Q relies on LA quite a bit and I felt like I had to rush through LA's material to learn it for Diffy Q.

    Of course, the best thing to do is talk to an adviser at your school because they know the schedules within those classes. For instance, if you start systems of D.E's early in the course and then eigen-stuff later in LA then it's going to be very problematic. Good luck.
  4. Jan 26, 2012 #3
    do you happen to go to ucla? i have friends taking all 3 at the same time, if you're mathematically oriented it shouldn't be a problem.
  5. Jan 27, 2012 #4
    my undergraduate institution required calc 1&2, LA, diff equ, multivariable calc IN THAT ORDER mainly due to the way the course material was set up or else you'd probably be struggling. They wanted you to have the "maturity" of having completed the freshman calc sequence before you took a proof oriented course in LA, then you needed stuff from LA to solve the coupled equations in the ODE course, and finally the multivariable calc class since it covered multiple differentiation and integration in about one 90 min lecture each then spent the rest of the semester on Green/Stokes/Divergence theorems, lots of PDE theory, and little bits of analysis. So you really needed to know your LA stuff for the vector calc portion and you needed to be solid with your ODEs for the stuff on fourier analysis and PDEs.

    I'm pretty sure the ODE and multivariable were really heavy on systems of equations and on PDEs mainly because they were the last math classes required for physics majors and they wanted to make sure they had very solid backgrounds in power series, vector calculus, systems of ODEs and PDE theory so they could actually teach E&M + QM without worrying about spending lecture time on "remedial mathematics" or having to offer one of those math methods in physics courses taught through the undergraduate physics curriculum.

    basically, see what each course covers and even if you don't know 100% of what you're looking at you might know if you can handle taking them all at the same time.

    your ODE class may be set up where you do first order ODEs then 2nd order, then power series solutions and finally systems of ODEs at the very end. if that's the case, you'll probably have all the algebra you need to be fine with the eigenvalue/vector stuff.

    if your multivariable class is set up where you spend lots of time on div/grad/curl and multiple integration, then get to vector calc at the end and don't touch on PDEs, then you'll be fine to not have had a full course on ODEs before taking your calc class ... same with LA, if vector calc isn't until the end, of the course, then you'll have had more than enough algebra to handle the calc class.
  6. Jan 27, 2012 #5
    Hahahah yea I go to ucla. I already asked some students, and none of them said it'll be too much problem. I'm asking it here to compare those courses from another school. Well, I don't know how mathematically oriented I am--32A (Calc of Several Var) is my first freshmen math class, but from my AP Calc BC score I'm above average. I'm the kind of person who do a lot of practices to gain understanding of the subject. So if they require some basic intelligence, then I'll get screwed haha.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2012
  7. Jan 27, 2012 #6
    well, in ucla, the sequence is 31A, 31B (calc single variable), 32A, 32B (both multivar calc), 33A (linear algebra), 33B (diff eq). As of PDE or ODE, I don't know anything about that :( so I can't tell. I wonder why in your school multivar is the last though.
  8. Jan 27, 2012 #7
    Shouldn't be too bad at all. Its nice to have linear algebra before diff eq though, but its not that big a deal (I took LA half a year AFTER diff eq).

    I personally did Calc 3( multivariate calc) and diff eq in the same semester along with physics2 and statics. Wasnt that hard, very doable.
  9. Jan 28, 2012 #8
    well, I said most of this in my previous post but: the way ours was set up, calc 1 did limits, differentiation rules and integration rules (substitution, partial fractions, integration by parts, etc...) and calc 2 did all kinds of applications and gave you exposure to first and second order ODEs when you were covering sinh/cosh topics.

    next was linear algebra which was kinda standard. the only reason the department gave in having calc 2 as a prerequisite was that they wanted a certain level of "mathematical maturity" before you took their first 200 level class.

    The ODE class focused on a swift review of those solution methods learned in calc 2 followed by loads of systems of ODEs that required LA very early in the course (which is why algebra was between calc 2 and ODE). The end of the ODE class was mostly spent on power series and bifurcating systems.

    the reason the DE class was a prerequisite for multivariable calc was because we spent two weeks on multiple differentiation/integration (basically a lecture on each followed by a lecture on applications). The rest of the semester was basically 50/50 between vector calculus and PDE theory ... which you kinda have to know how to solve ODEs to be able to keep up.

    the reason the multivariable calc class was a 50/50 mix of vector calculus and PDE theory was because it's the last math class required if you were a physics/engineering major and they wanted those students to have exposure to vector calc and solving PDEs so they didn't have to teach math during physics/engineering courses on EM / QM / thermo / wave mechanics / or whatever else.

    bottom line, I think you'll be fine with taking all 3 at once due to ucla's system. you probably won't need LA until late in your ODE class and you probably won't get into PDE theory in your multivariable class, so good luck, i'm sure you'll be fine.
  10. Jan 29, 2012 #9
    I see. Thank you all for the replies. They were really helpful. Now I just need to worry about getting the classes I need haha xD good luck to you in your study or work :)
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