# Which math courses would help me most?

• Courses
Hello PF!

So my registration is coming up soon-ish for the fall semester and I am having trouble deciding which math courses to take for my Fall and Spring semesters of Senior Year. Currently, I want to go to a Physics grad school of some sort in either Astrophysics, Nuclear Physics, Solid State or Medical Physics(I have not reached a final choice yet). Below I have listed the three choices I am considering that I feel would help me out some how.

First Option:

Real Analysis I in Fall: Basic theory for the real numbers and the notions of limit, continuity, differentiation, integration, convergence, uniform convergence, and infinite series. Additional topics may include metric and normed linear spaces, point set topology, analytic number theory, Fourier series.

Real Analysis II in Spring: A continuation of Real Analysis including discussion of basic concepts of analysis with particular attention to the development of the Riemann and Lebesgue integrals. Introduction to metric spaces, Fourier analysis.

Second Option

Intro to Computer Programming in Fall: Programming class using Python basically

Partial Differential Equations (Requires intro programming class) in Spring: Theory and applications of partial differential equations (PDE). Construction of PDE as models of natural phenomena. Solution via separation of variables, Fourier series and transforms, and other analytical and computational techniques. Independent or group research projects on open problems in applied PDE.

Computational Linear Algebra(Requires intro programming class) in Spring: Core techniques of scientific computing; solving systems of linear and nonlinear equations, approximation and statistical function estimation, optimization, interpolation, Monte Carlo techniques. Applications throughout the sciences and statistics

Third Option

Discrete Mathematics in Fall: An introduction to the basic techniques and methods used in combinatorial problem-solving. Includes basic counting principles, induction, logic, recurrence relations, and graph theory.

Abstract Algebra in Spring: Introduction to abstract algebraic theory with emphasis on finite groups, rings, fields, constructibility, introduction to Galois theory.

I'm guessing you've asked your faculty and they said - doesn't matter.

What are you most interested in? Do that.

If you still aren't sure, why not take a crack at the first option. Learning to program in python is something you can do for fun with hairdressing majors at the local community college. Real analysis is a challenge... you might need a professor to hold your hand through that...

From what I have seen all physics majors typically end up learning programming eventually if you haven't learned any yet you are already somewhat behind. You might as well learn it now. I also think partial differential equations would be super important to a physics major, given that so much of physics is a differential equation.

fluidistic
Gold Member
I think the second option would be the most useful -by far-. But since I'm just an undergrad student, do not trust me blindly.

I would go for the second option. PDE's are very important and the more you know about it, the better.
Computational linear algebra and programming will also help you a great deal.

If it were me, I'd go programming in the fall + linear algebra in the spring.

PDEs are pretty important but IMHO, unless you're taking a 6-9 credit sequence in them, and already had real/complex analysis, you'd probably be better off learning PDEs through mathematical physics courses (which get right to applications and solution methods). *That previous statement may be subject to school / department you're taking it in (math/engineering/physics) / instructor / book / etc... so maybe you'd get a lot out of a single PDE course.

Math physics courses will definitely be available during grad school, and you're probably better off getting a more solid programming background via the intro course and the computational LA class.

Good luck figuring stuff out.

Ah! Thank you guys very much for the input. I think I will go with programming this fall then.

It depends on what your interests are. If you are proficient in computer programming and want to do a lot of theoretical physics, a math class might be most useful. If you are not proficient in computer programing, a CS class would probably be most useful.