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Which is more important: Partial DiffE or Complex Variables

  1. Dec 25, 2005 #1
    I am majoring in EE and have the option of taking either of these classes. I have to take Calc 1-3, Ordinary DiffE, and Linear Algebra. So after these classes is PDE or Complex Variables more useful to electrical engineers?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 25, 2005 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'd say complex analysis, but I'm not sure what-all is covered in the PDE class. Can you post the syllabus of each?
  4. Dec 26, 2005 #3
    Sure. Here they are:
    Complex Variables:
    Analytic functions, power series, residues and poles, conformal mapping, and applications.

    Partial Differential Equations:
    Classification of second order equations, characteristics, general theory of first order equations, Dirichlet problem for Laplace's equeation and Green's functions, eigenvalue problems, and variational methods.
  5. Dec 26, 2005 #4
    Both of these classes have one different prerequisite. So whichever class I would take I would have to take the prereq for that class too. The pre req for Complex Variables is Calculus of Several Variables, and the pre req for PDE is Intermediate Differential Equations (ODE 2?). Here are the discriptions of those classes:

    Calculus of Several Variables:
    Differential and integral calculus of functions of several variables, vector anylasis, Stokes' Theorem, Green's Theorem and applications.

    Intermediate Differential Equations:
    Systems of differential equations, series, solutions, special functions, elementary partrial differential equations, Sturm-Liouville problems, stability and applications.
  6. Dec 26, 2005 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    The class listings help a lot. For an EE, the complex analysis track will be way more useful. The PDE track looks to have some fun stuff as well, but in EE you'll use complex analysis almost constantly, so getting extra background on it will be a big plus, IMO.
  7. Dec 26, 2005 #6
    I'm not sure if they would introduce you to Fourier Transforms in PDE, if they did that would be useful in EE.

    My first choice would be Complex variables, but if you could take both classes definately take them.
  8. Dec 26, 2005 #7
    I would say complex variables for sure. That class would be VERY useful in your studies.

    Since I know the course schedule that you have planned out for yourself -- and correct me if I'm wrong, but you plan to take this class before you take your higher level engineering classes -- the complex variable class will be so incredibly useful it's not even funny.

    The PDE would be a nice class to take, but you use complex variables a lot in your engineering courses -- linear systems, signals, controls, power, communications, etc. Very, very useful.
  9. Dec 26, 2005 #8
    He would most likely see the Fourier series in PDE – using it to derive the heat equation, I think. I don't believe they introduce the Fourier Transform, however. I have a friend who's doing mechanical engineering, and he just took his PDE class, and he told me that he learned the FS, but not the FT.

    Then again, it could be different at his university. My friend’s class was dedicated to ME's, so they may have altered the standard curriculum a bit.
  10. Dec 30, 2005 #9
    Thanks for the input everyone. Yes Maxwell, you are right. I will take this class before I take any of the upper level engineering courses.
    Hey Maxwell, I was thinking about what you told me a few weeks ago when I told you my academic plan. You said that it would probably be most benificial if I were to minor in physics and math as oppose to computer science and math since I will probably specialize in photonics. So I checked out what I would need to take to minor in physics, and it turns out that I would only have to take a few extra classes, and they look very fun and usefull. I am now pretty sure that I am going to minor in math and applied physics now and drop the whole computer science thing all together. Thanks for the advice.
  11. Dec 30, 2005 #10
    I know everyone here is saying complex variables, but I'd (tentatively) disagree. At my school, a lot of the complex math is taught inside the core EE courses, which almost makes complex variables seem redundant. I'd suggest that you look into whether your department is similar.
  12. Dec 30, 2005 #11
    Good call Manchot. I will definetely do that.
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