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Courses Which maths courses are required for Physics?

  1. Jul 11, 2012 #1
    The school I am looking to transfer to only requires up to Calculus III for a Physics degree, so I am considering not taking any more maths courses after that to make room for more Physics courses, and learn the maths on my own. What maths would be required for upper-level Physics courses? (Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Real/Complex Analysis, etc.)
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  3. Jul 11, 2012 #2
    I'd advise taking differential equations and linear algebra. Complex analysis, PDEs, etc are nice but not required - I would not take them in place of physics courses. PDEs is possibly worth taking in place of a physics elective.

    Does your physics department have a mathematical methods course?
  4. Jul 11, 2012 #3
    Yes, I agree with Jorriss. Linear algebra and differential equations are crucial.
    In addition, I would take a look at the following excellent book by Boas: https://www.amazon.com/Mathematical...8&qid=1342024186&sr=8-1&keywords=Boas+physics
    It contains about all the math you need for most of physics. If you're going to self-study the math, then this book is excellent.
  5. Jul 11, 2012 #4
    The school offers tons of advanced/upper-level maths courses - but I thought if I can just learn them all on my own since they are not required for the degree, it might not make a difference on my transcript.
  6. Jul 11, 2012 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    I would consider it odd not to require at least differential equations in addition to calculus I-III. The physics department might teach a required "mathematical methods" course instead of requiring physics majors to take DE and linear algebra over in the math department.
  7. Jul 11, 2012 #6
    Oh, it's possible I might have overlooked that requirement - but in any case, would Mathematical Methods/DE+Lin Alg be all that's necessary to complete the majority of Physics courses? Or would it be advisable to study even more advanced mathematics on my own to suit the more challenging modules (Solid State, Nuclear/Particle, Relativity, Advanced Quantum Physics, etc.)?
  8. Aug 10, 2012 #7


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Micromass has mentioned the Mary Boas's text. Please look at that, because it contains practically all the mathematics you WILL need at most undergraduate level.

    I've mentioned this text several times in many different threads, including my "So You Want To Be A Physicist" essay.

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