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Which math courses will be most useful in a physics major?

  1. Apr 7, 2013 #1
    Abstract linear algebra, differential equations applications, or partial differential equations.

    Id realistically like to take only two of the three courses, so which three would be most beneficial? Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2013 #2
    What are you planning to do later in grad school?? What topic in physics do you find most interesting?

    Can you also provide us with the contents of the course?
  4. Apr 7, 2013 #3
    It is too soon for me to say what I will be doing in graduate school, but I find condensed matter physics and particle physics to be what interest me most now.
    The course descriptions are:
    Abstract linear algebra: We will try to understand such notions and make use of them in studying problems which at first glance may not seem to be "linear". Examples we will look at include explicit formulas for the famous Fibonacci and Lucas numbers, polynomial interpolation, factoring integers, solving difference and differential equations, and Hurwitz's celebrated 1,2,4,8 theorem.

    Diff. Eqs. Applications: Series solutions of differential equations, Bessel functions, Fourier series, partial differential equations and boundary value problems, nonlinear differential equations.

    Partial: Solution of first and second order partial differential equations with applications to engineering and the sciences.

    Thanks again for the help!
  5. Apr 7, 2013 #4
    Definitely the two differential equations courses. The outline of the abstract linear algebra course seems pretty irrelevant to physics, while the topics in the differential equations courses are pretty essential. Easy choice!
  6. Apr 7, 2013 #5
    I agree. Take both differential equations courses. If you have room afterwards, then take Linear Algebra; however, it may not be much use to you depending on what Physics your planning on going into.
  7. Apr 8, 2013 #6
    Great! I like easy decisions :) thanks for the help guys! I guess I should also ask, is it worth it to take plain old linear algebra or will I learn what I have to through my physics courses? Basically, is a linear algebra course a must? Thanks again!
  8. Apr 8, 2013 #7
    Is the linear algebra course not even a strict requirement for a physics major? You shouldn't skip that, yes.
  9. Apr 8, 2013 #8
    I don't think it is a must, but Linear Algebra does go in depth about vectors and matrices. Which are important aspects of Physics. So while it isn't a requirement, it still may be recommended by some people.

    I haven't taken the course yet, so I can't give you my personal opinion on it, sorry. :( That's just what I know of so far. If you have room for it, then take it. You could always ask your advisor for their opinion, or a friend who has taken the course.
  10. Apr 8, 2013 #9
    Thanks for the replies, and no it is not a requirement. I have basically two math electives which I am going to use towards the two differential equations courses. I will definitely ask about other people's experiences with linear algebra at the next physics club meeting!
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