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Tell me What to do Now!

  1. Apr 20, 2005 #1
    Hello, I am sorry to bore you for another thread like this....But I at least I am not posting this on 'General Physics' threads. Soon, I will be taking upper division E&M and Classical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics. So people said they are 'insane' classes and taking all three of them at the same time is like killing yourself. Is that really true? Well what do you think of that?

    Another question is......my friend told me that I should take upper division linear algebra before I start taking Quantum Mechanics but I can't really trust him. What do you think of that?

    One last question, I know I will be taking one year of Mathematical Methords classes (for it is required as a physics major), But I am thinking that's just not enough math. So same friend I mentioned above told me that I should take Real Analysis but I can't trust him. I want to take Advanced Calculus instead of Real Analysis but what do you think of that?

    Please, end my misery.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 20, 2005 #2
    There are no simple answers because we have no idea what your abilities, previous coursework, and ambitions are. Also - things are kind of different from college to college.

    I do think that 2 classes of upper-division physics each term (or semester) is plenty for the average student.

    You should know some linear algebra for QM, but if you've taken a freshman or sophomore-level course that already covered eigenvectors, then you should be fine. Real analysis will not be useful for undergrad physics per se, but is worth learning for its own sake. I have no idea what you mean by Advanced Calculus, but if that means Calculus III (multivariable and vector calculus) - then you definitely need to know this for your physics courses, before you learn real analysis.

    What kind of physics program do you have at your school? There should be some guidelines/requirements somewhere out there. Isn't there anyone in your physics dept to talk to, like a professor?
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2005
  4. Apr 20, 2005 #3


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    Well, I'll let you be a bore if you will permit me to do the same. I will be VERY tacky here and will suggest to you that you read my essay that is being described in the Sticky. One of the chapters is exactly what you are asking: mathematical preparations.

    QM and especially E&M (if you're taking this at the level of Griffith) will be mathematically challenging. In fact, many students could not see the forrest due to the trees, i.e. they lose track of the physics because they get stuck with the math. It is imperative that you arm yourself with the math so that you do not end up learning the math at the same time as you are trying to learn the physics.

    .. and for heavens sake, get that book that I highly recommend. You can thank me later when you get your degree... :)

  5. Apr 20, 2005 #4
    I'm presently taking E&M (griffiths), Thermodynamics, and Quantum II (shankar) and it's a neverending nightmare of more homework. I wish I had put one off. As classical mechanics is definitely more complicated & mathematically intense than therm, I can honestly recomend waiting on at least one. In fact, taking classical mechanics before E&M is pretty standard (I think) and will give you a solid once over in vector calculus - it gets pretty thick in E&M.

    Learning mathematics before physics is definitely a plus, do it if you can.

    Hope this helps
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2005
  6. Apr 20, 2005 #5
    Advanced calculus is like analysis from what I understand, basically you go back over Calc 1-3 and prove everything and don't bother computing things. It is to calculus what computational linear algebra is to proof based linear algebra. It is a 3 course sequence just like calculus.
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