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When to take Quantum Physics

  1. Apr 16, 2009 #1
    I have only completed the intro sequence to physics, but next semester I really want to take quantum for various financial and time reasons. Anyway, I will be taking it alongside Vibrations and waves (physics 3) and differential equations. Will I be prepared? Most people seem to take Modern physics first.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 16, 2009 #2
    I have no idea what your undergraduate program is like so its hard to say. I took quantum mechanics before most other physics as an undergrad and was perfectly fine, we had no vibrations and waves course though. My Quantum I did require knowledge of linear algebra and ODEs, but many people took them at the same time and were fine. It just depends how in depth into the mathematics the course gets.
  4. Apr 16, 2009 #3
    It'll be harsh, just so you know. I don't know how your program is like, but normally profs in advance QM would assume you to have some knowledge in modern physics (solving Schrodinger eq, etc.). And yes, you actually need linear algebra (instead of DFQ :))
    But I know people are able to pick up what they need to know for math through out the course.
    So yes, it is doable (not in my school though. I think one needed to finish an intermediate mechanic and E&M course before taking QM. And it suppose to be a senior course anyway). But expecting it to be hard. That is to say, you might need to work harder to keep with the class.
  5. Apr 16, 2009 #4


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    You can probably get by but it's a bit iffy. You'll learn some linear algebra in the course but most likely, you'll just kinda go with the flow and not understand why some things are happening. Differential equations will be important so hopefully you pick it up quickly or maybe do some self-study. It's not advisable, but doable.
  6. Apr 17, 2009 #5


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    Ideally I would suggest after learning about Lagrangian/Hamiltonian in a classical mechanics class and after a differential equations/linear algebra course.
  7. Apr 17, 2009 #6
    At my institution, an intermediate "Modern Physics" (after a three-semester calculus-sequence of intro science/engineering physics including mechanics, EM and Waves/optics/modern physics) wasn't required and was rather considered a "holder" course for students who didn't yet have the math background to move on to intermediate physics courses (like QM1, EM1, and classical mechanics). I declared my major a bit late, so I didn't ever take Modern, largely because of it's reputation as "filler"... and I found the intense physics coursework pretty nice to fit together.

    Note that I did, however, have a pretty strong math background.. I had completed ordinary differential equations and linear algebra, I and was currently taking a partial differential equation/boundary value class. I think I was taking Quantum I, Mechanics I, Thermo, and EM1 all at the same time, along with the math class, maybe an advanced chem, and a few gen-ed's (it was, I believe my 22/21 credit hour term... oy vey, what was I thinking?)! While not easy, I had professors who for the most part set reasonable expectations (and I knew this by talking with other students in the department).

    So think about your own math background, own talents, and talk to other students in your department about courses (both with regards to flow from one to another and expectations of professors). I knew 1-2 that had done killer-terms such as mine before (and skipped the modern course, which wasn't offered but once a year anyways), so I just decided it was my turn.
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