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Which math class should i take?

  1. Apr 22, 2012 #1
    Hello physicsforums

    next semester i have a bit of an awkward schedule because i changed majors. this left me with in a strange spot where i can take another math class.

    here are my choices
    Abstract Algebra
    +i am pretty interested in it due to some exposure in linear algebra
    +I have to take this class if i want to get a minor or a BA in Math in addition to my computer engineering degree

    -might be too difficult for me (i don't have too much exposure to proofs)
    -I don't imagine its too useful for a computer engineer with a focus on CS, but that's not too much of a con
    -professor wrote the book we are using. last time this happened i ended up just teaching myself the subject from a different book because i learned nothing at lecture since it was the book regurgitated back to us in an equally confusing manner (i didn't like the way the book was written).

    sidenote: if i don't take this class now, i will just end up taking it in 2-3 semesters anyway, the other ones i might not however since the math minor doesn't require them, but it requires algebra

    Number Theory
    +seems really useful since one of my interests is cryptography

    -dont know? i am not really sure what the class is like since i've never been exposed to it

    Numerical Methods
    +generally a useful subject since it deals with both optimization and useful ways to use computers to do complex calculations

    -seems a little boring from what i have heard (not that big of a deal)
    -could be very time consuming since there might be a lot of trial and error involved

    -/+ not really a pro or con but it counts towards my engineering degree rather than my math and taking it would close off the possibility of getting a BA since i wouldnt have enough room for more math classes. not really a negative since in the end a minor or a BA is just a piece of paper.

    right now i am leaning towards either abstract algebra or number theory since they seem a bit more interesting (at least abstract algebra). however i would prefer to take the one that is maybe a bit less time consuming since next semester i will be taking the max amount of units allowed and the other classes i am taking are going to be extremely time consuming from what i've heard from my classmates.

    also i have another question, but this doesn't really have to be answered

    is knowing a foreign language important? the reason i ask is because i switched from CS to CECS because CS required 3 semesters of foreign language, and from past experiences with foreign languages (italian) i was probably going to fail. so i changed to CECS which contains the entire CS curriculum but instead of 3 language classes i have to take 4 circuits and computer architecture classes, which is totally fine by me since i am interested in those subjects. will not knowing any foreign language bar me from grad school in CS or job opportunities, or is it not that important.

    thanx in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2012 #2
    If you think abstract algebra will be too difficult, then number theory will be for sure. Usually, you should already know abstract algebra before taking number theory. So I wouldn't take this yet.

    In a first abstract algebra course, the prof usually assumes that you don't know so much proofs yet. So he will usually introduce you gently to it (but it can still be a rough ride even then). I'd say to just bite the bullet and do the algebra class. You need it anyway...
  4. Apr 22, 2012 #3
    thanx a lot. i didn't know that you needed abstract algebra for number theory.

    I guess i will be taking that :)
  5. May 4, 2012 #4
    It varies by school whether you need algebra for number theory or not. At my college, you can take number theory after integral calculus/calc II, but it's just elementary number theory. It does get into some algebra-related concepts, but it approaches them at a pretty basic level.
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