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Taking Two Math Classes Simultaneously

  1. Nov 4, 2009 #1
    I am thinking of taking Multivariate Calculus & Differential Eq/Linear Algebra both during summer semester. Doing will save me an entire semester and both have the same Calculus II pre-req.

    My questions is: are these two classes okay to take at the same time? Or should one be done before the other? Any other input is appreciated.

    I'm not worried about course load or ability to study the materials, I am fine there. I'm just looking how these two classes might relate to each other and how taking two math classes at once is. I've never taken more than one math class at a time, so this concept is new to me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2009 #2
    It depends on your ability. If you were able to sail through calc 1 and 2 then it will be a walk in the park to take calc 3 and diff eq at the same time (which I'd argue are both easier than either calc 1 or 2). If these classes required a lot of studying on your part then you might have a rough time.
  4. Nov 4, 2009 #3
    Linear algebra is used in multivariable calculus (dot products, projections, etc.), but not enough to where it should be a prerequisite. You should be fine there. However, this is based off of my experience with Calculus III at my school.

    Nothing in multivariable calculus will be used in an ODE class. If it were, it would be a PDE class!
  5. Nov 4, 2009 #4
    When an undergrad, I often took two math classes at the same time in order to get a math minor. Since the prerequisites are covered, you should be fine. It might, however, be harder to do so during a summer term... summer courses tend to move very quickly because of the shorter duration term, even if it is a "full summer" course... and I personally always found it tough to take any summer courses just because of the nice weather!
  6. Nov 4, 2009 #5
    Thanks for the advice everyone, sounds like I should be okay.

    Math comes pretty easy to me (pretty much the only thing that does) so I don't need to study too much to succeed.

    And physics girl phd, that's the other thing I had on my mind - the shorter semester. I'm only taking those two classes and an english class, so I hope I'll be okay. Thankfully they are all full summer semester classes rather than the shorter ones.
  7. Nov 4, 2009 #6
    The short quarter might be difficult however it is definitely doable. I took differential equations, multi variable calc, and a physics course all at once. It seems much easier to lose motivation during the summer months though.

    As for these courses being easier than calculus one and two, thats debatable. It wasn't that differential equations was particularly difficult, it just took much more time to complete the homework than any of my calculus courses. Obviously the difficulty will range depending on school, instructor, etc. Maybe you should get a syllabus an see how much material will be covered.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
  8. Nov 4, 2009 #7
    Should be cake. I typically take 3-4 math classes per semester. When I took diff eq's I also had Abstract Algebra 2, Discrete Math, and I think some other math course plus some gen ed classes (one was honors English, the other was some garbage time-waster/grade-booster b.s.).

    Differential equations really isn't usually that tough. Most of it is remembering techniques, doing linear algebra and reading vector fields. A good number of the techniques are pretty intuitive (though some of the tests for uniqueness of solutions ect. were more straight memorization for me). I do know that a friend of mine who goes to a university a city over had a diff eq's class geared towards engineering students that he claims was a killer.
  9. Nov 4, 2009 #8
    I have the opposite experience. My school is predominantly an engineering school, so all of our DE classes are geared towards engineering. In other words, the classes are ENTIRELY computational and, I thought, quite easy. Uniqueness and existence? Theory? Nope. Nothing.

    Bummer for me.
  10. Nov 6, 2009 #9
    That sucks, I can't see how you could skip over proving a solution exists and its uniqueness. What if you want to use some techniques in the field but you don't know any tests for finding out if a solution even exists?
  11. Nov 6, 2009 #10
    depends on your ability. Can you handle doing two math courses at once? If you are a math major (or planning on being one) you'll need to take at least 2 classes at once. That goes for other subjects majors too.

    * i'm assuming you are taking Applied Linear Algebra for Engineers. There probably is another Linear Algebra for Mathematics Major and it involves proofs. In that case, you'll need an introductory proof course before that.

    Yes it is quite okay to take Calc III + Linear Algebra at once. At the surface, there will be little to no correlation between the two.

    As per Calc III + DE...well, at the end of your DE course you might need "Partial Differential" concept (it's easy btw) from Calc III. But by the time you need that....you'll already learn it in Calc III.
  12. Nov 7, 2009 #11

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    I think this varies by school.

    When I took Calc I and Calc II it was a walk in the park. Calc III and Differential Equations were among the very hardest classes I ever took. There was no way I would have been able to take them both simultaneously. Not and keep my sanity.
  13. Nov 7, 2009 #12
    Yeap it does depend in school and the student too!

    our instructor who has taught all Calc I, Calc II, and Calc III course says...

    student find Calc I the easiest among those three course
    they find Calc II the hardest
    and Calc III easy

    i personally loved Calc I and Calc II but didn't like Calc III. I also enjoyed DE course when most of my peers hated it.

    and i didn't like Linear Algebra either. But the Linear Algebra class i took required me to do proofs :-\

    I think if i had done Applied Linear Algebra course (the one with lots of problems and no proofs) i would have enjoyed it.
  14. Nov 8, 2009 #13


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    My concern with the summer classes would not be so much the difficulty, but the question of whether you will retain the knowledge. At my school summer classes last only 5 weeks. Too late I realized that it's not wise to take anything you will need to know later in this format. I took Diff Eq as a summer class; within weeks after the class was over I had pretty much completely forgotten everything.
  15. Nov 8, 2009 #14
    I took Calculus II and Linear Algebra at the same time.
    I got A-'s in both, but it was a lot of work!

    I'd rate the math courses I took as follows... (from most to least time consuming)

    1. Linear Algebra (w/proofs)
    2. Calculus II
    3. Differential Equations
    4. Multivariate Calculus
    5. Calculus I
    6. Pre-Calculus

    I've heard the engineering-geared combined Diff-EQ/Linear courses aren't bad at all.
    I would be concerned about what you actually cover though, as I took the separate courses and we learned new material all the way to the buzzer with many things still untouched in the text (which I've been exploring as time permits).
  16. Nov 9, 2009 #15
    Thankfully my summer semester is 12 weeks as opposed to the normal 16 week fall/spring semesters. If they were only 5 weeks I'd probably be looking at other options. I definately wouldn't want to take those classes over a period of 5 weeks.
  17. Nov 9, 2009 #16
    I had taken two math courses in last semester- Probability and Complex variable & FT. They were not interrelated that much but it didn't make any problem for me. Actually it depends on the person. If you are confident to take two math courses, do not hesitate. At least do something new to achieve something new! good luck.
  18. Nov 9, 2009 #17


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    With a more condensed summer schedule, even if it's only by a few weeks, it's not the two math courses that worry me in what you've listed, but trying to add on the English course too. Having taken English courses in the summer, my experience was that they assume you are not taking any other classes and it's all you can do to keep up with the reading and writing required. We would complete a rather thick novel each week in the summer class, which doesn't sound that bad when you enjoy spending your summers sitting outside reading anyway (that's why I'd take them in summer), but when you have to remember you're not just reading for pleasure, but to extract themes, plots, symbolism, literary allusions, etc., it slows down reading, plus you then have those essays to write about all those things you just read. That might not leave a lot of time for doing math problem sets.
  19. Nov 9, 2009 #18
    I'm hoping it isn't quite like that. I am taking it online and it's a technical writing class, I've finished my lower level English courses. But I see where you are coming from. The English class like you've described take a lot of time and I'd definately be thinking twice about it if it were a intro english class.
  20. Nov 10, 2009 #19
    I am confused... Is it not extremely common to take more than 1 math course per semester? Are we only thinking this may be difficult because its a summer session?
  21. Nov 10, 2009 #20
    It's only uncommon to me. Also since I haven't taken either one, I didn't know if it would be better to take them separately. i.e. you should algebra before calculus. (that one is really obvious, but you get the idea)
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