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Undergrad math to help prepare for grad school?

  1. Dec 22, 2008 #1
    I am a first year physics student going into my second semester. Plan is to take 3 semesters of calc. and differential equations. I was going to take linear algebra this up coming semester but it was canceled dew to lack of interest can anyone recommend some other important maths to take?
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  3. Dec 22, 2008 #2

    George Jones

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    Are you looking for stuff that you can take in the second semester of first-year, or for courses that you can take in later years?
  4. Dec 22, 2008 #3
    Well specifically next semester but I am interested in both.
  5. Dec 22, 2008 #4


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    lack of interest in linear algebra? I was going to say the most important courses in math are advanced calculus and linear algebra.

    I would go and try to get that class reinstated, or you might consider changing schools, or enrolling for that one course elsewhere.

    basically, i recommend advanced calc, linear algebra, and diff eq, as absolutely basic.

    and to understand diff eq, you need more than just a first course of linear algebra.

    i.e. get several courses of each of those if possible. in particular learn what jordan form is in linear algebra.

    I am a pure mathematician however, so i yield to the advice of the physics specialists here.
  6. Dec 22, 2008 #5
    I wouldn't have made it in grad school had I not had linear algebra as an undergrad. I also took advanced calculus later on, but I would have had a MUCH easier time if I took it before grad school. I also recommend some sort of complex variables class, along with numerical analysis.
  7. Dec 22, 2008 #6
    Anything you can think of I could take next semester? I have one semester of calc under my belt, and every thing that comes with that, trig ect.
  8. Dec 22, 2008 #7
    I only had one linear algebra course and there is only one offered at my school. We covered extensively : Basis for a vector space, row space, null space, eigenspace, diagonalization and similar matricies, orthogonal and orthonormal bases, jordan form, equivalent properties of invertible matricies, change of basis ect...basically the first 6 chapters of David Lay's book plus some outside material. Anything that is left out is covered in calc 2 such as vector calculus and vector geometry.
  9. Dec 22, 2008 #8
    Yea, not enough kids signed up for linear algebra in the spring semester so, its canceled to be a once a year fall only class.
  10. Dec 22, 2008 #9


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    Transfer? If your school can't even get enough interest for LA then it probably has a very poor selection of higher electives.
  11. Dec 23, 2008 #10
    I'm not an expert, but in short:

    Linear algebra/abstract algebra
    Calculus I-III
    Diff Eq

    Are definitely good courses to look at, but from the undergrad courses I've had thus far,
    it would be advised to see if there's a lower-level partial differential equations course for later. Partial differential equations is a pretty large part of physics, and I've found that physics professors are fairly adapt at being horrific mathematics instructors.

    But complex variables wouldn't be bad, either. Also, you should see if your school has a "Mathematical Physics" or a "Computational Physics" course. These are generally math-based courses taught by physicists (*sigh*), but they tend to teach you the necessary math skills for graduate school (Or so they tell me).
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