Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Which Math subjects should I self study for Physics?

  1. May 6, 2010 #1
    For the last few months I have been fascinated with Physics. I taught myself the basic, non-calculus based ,newtonian concepts. In Math class, I would always study my notes instead of physically solve the math. That is why I never really enjoyed it before.

    Now that I actually doing the problems on my own, I am starting to enjoy it alot. I am amazed how Mathematics can describe the physical world we live in with such elegance. I am a senior in high school and have taught myself Trigonometry and am currently learning Calculus (I do not have a lot of work to do outside of high school so I can devote that time to studying).

    However, how much math should I learn before I will be able to understand college level Physics? Specifically, would Calculus suffice or should I learn Differential Equations(Calculus III) and Linear Algebra as well? Any other tips and/or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2010 #2
    Calc III is different from differential equations.

    Calculus I is probably the minimum to understand the intro courses for physics. Calculus II wouldn't hurt. Calculus III and you'd be gold for the first basic classes in college physics (calc based). Calc I is all that is necessary in my opinion. Calc III has vectors that you will need in some stuff of the intro courses, but it is usually simple and taught at the time, so calc III isn't necessary, but helpful.

    I recommend that by the time you finish your second intro class of physics (and are about to move on to upper level courses), you should be finished with Calc III as well. If you want to really be on top of things finish linear algebra and differential equations by the time you finish your two intro courses for physics (that would probably be tough to do, but it could make things much easier). At a bare minimum, take diffyQ at the same time as your upper level courses, but have calc III done by that time.
  4. May 6, 2010 #3
    UCF Set up classes this way:

    Calc I

    Then PHY I and CALC II together

    Then PHY II and CALC III

    Then PHY III

    Linear algebra is not a required class, but could fulfill a directed elective.

    Differentials is also required for other classes.

    So in short, calc I-III + differentials you should study. I don't believe you can get past this before you get in college :)
  5. May 9, 2010 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Anyone receiving a solicitation via PM needs to report it to a mentor.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook