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Which math class should I choose for a minor?

  1. Nov 11, 2012 #1
    Hey guys,

    I need to take two more math two more math courses to qualify for a minor in mathematics, but I want to pick two classes which will help me become a better problem solver.

    I copied the list below, in your opinion which do you feel will be a class that would enhance my problem solving skills.


    MAD 4203 Introduction to Combinatorics (3 credits)
    MAA 4402 Complex Variables (3 credits)
    MTG 3212 College Geometry (3 credits)
    MAS 4213 Number Theory (3 credits)
    MAA 4212 Topics in Advanced Calculus (3 credits)
    MAS 4302 Topics in Algebraic Structures (3 credits)
    MTG 4302 Topology (3 credits)

    List 2

    MAP 4401 Advanced Differential Equations (3 credits)
    MAD 3305 Graph Theory (3 credits)
    MAP 3103 Mathematical Modeling (3 credits)
    STA 4322 Mathematical Statistics II (3 credits)
    MAD 3401 Numerical Analysis (3 credits)
    MHF 4302 Mathematical Logic (3 credits)
    MHF 4102 Axiomatic Set Theory (3 credits)
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2012 #2
    What do you mean by "become a better problem solver"? Better at solving what kind of problems?
  4. Nov 11, 2012 #3
    critical thinking, the types of problems where you need more than just a formula to solve.
  5. Nov 11, 2012 #4
    I dont think that's too specific. Do you mean

    -calculus over the complex numbers, differential equations and systems, maybe even PDEs? (Complex variables and Diff Eq 2).

    -working with discrete problems, algorithms, series, recurrence relations, etc (combinatorics and graphy theory).

    -Very proof intensive thought problems (algebra, analysis, set theory, logic, topology).

    -I'm not quite sure how to describe it (number theory)

    -traditional geometry (geometry)

    -I don't know much about problem solving in modeling and statistics and numerical methods (Modeling, numerical methods and statistics) but I don't really think it's what you're looking for?

    Any specific group(s) there that you prefer or have interests in? Do you want it to be directly relevant to your major (which is?)?

    Edit: Roughly every course has some formula you need to use. But it's often derived or proven in the course for your convenience to solve problems computationally.

    Generally, it's what introductory college and highschool maths do not do. (Ex: derivative rules, fundamental theorem of calculus in calc 1)
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2012
  6. Nov 11, 2012 #5


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    I vote for Topics in Advance Calculus, which I assume is just an intro to real analysis. I've found out of any other class, this type of class taught me the most about how to be creative with definitions and theorems. It's hard to prove something that seems obvious but this class gave me the tools to do so.

    The second one I would just pick based on what sounds interesting. I'm bias towards Stats because the more you know about the stats, the better off you'll be :).
  7. Nov 11, 2012 #6
    I apologize, I guess I was a bit vague. Well I'm a biomedical engineering major, and I plan on taking the mcat in a year.

    I was talking to a guy in the library and he told me that he owes most of his success in the mcat to the critical thinking and rigorous problem solving techniques that he underwent as a math major.

    So I guess I want to take a class that will challenge the way you see the world and make you think outside the box to come up with a solution.
  8. Nov 11, 2012 #7
    Some of the courses listed may be too challenging. What is your mathematical background (coursework+readings) and how experienced are you with proofs? If you meet the requirements (I'm familiar with FL public schools math courses) of these courses, then you may be prepared.

    Judging by your major, I think you'll be happy with some math that is indirectly relevant (usually the fun ones in my opinion).

    On the side, my physics professor mentioned that fluid dynamics is helpful in the mcat since it is applicable to blood pressure, etc. He wasn't specific whether physics 1 was enough though and I am only slightly familiar with the mcat exam.
  9. Nov 11, 2012 #8
    Different to answer your question because it is vague and largely subjective, since they all are rigorous. If I had to pick one I would definitely pick number theory.

    I suppose you should pick whatever will relate the most to what you want to do -- that seems to make sense.
  10. Nov 12, 2012 #9
    Thanks for the replies guys, I guess from what your all saying. Numbers theory and advanced calculus is the way to go?
  11. Nov 12, 2012 #10
    Not really. All the classes are rigorous, so you just need to find out what interests you the most and take that. Number theory and advanced calculus are great suggestions, but maybe there are things you'll like better. If you want to learn rigor, problem solving and critical thinking, then all classes are good.
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