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Courses Which should I take: Abstract Algebra vs 4th year lab (non-thesis) course?

  1. Jul 13, 2011 #1
    I am undecided between these two for 2012 spring term (my last semester hopefully)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2011 #2
    How is anyone supposed to help you with such little information? This is a choice you need to make. Not knowing what the lab is, I'd take abstract algebra, but again, we don't even know what program you're in.
  4. Jul 14, 2011 #3
    i'm taking physics honors, with a research interest in plasma physics, thanks
  5. Jul 14, 2011 #4


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    We have no idea of your other studies and interests and where this fits in, but 10:1 I would take the lab. Because I have never taken a course in abstract algebra, yet I know some and could easily know more if I needed or wanted to. All I need to do is get a book called 'Abstract Algebra' (in my case read the ones I've got :biggrin:). Any time in life. But I will never again after uni be able to follow that lab course, a certain reality from them remain with me when I answer some questions here.

    And BTW I think the main thing about abstract algebra is the spirit. It is quite amusing for a bit to prove from minimal postulates that x - x = 0, etc. in some structures, and realise that it is not a necessary assumption, nor perhaps so obvious as it seems, but after a bit I found each algebraic structure was more of much the same thing. cahesouslachaise.gif And then if you have for applications to pursue the most useful ones like groups or vector spaces do they call it abstract algebra any more, don't they just call them group theory or vector spaces?

    Edit: while writing you posted and I have no doubts now, the lab.
  6. Jul 14, 2011 #5
    hey, in case you need more information, the course descriptions are:

    MATH-210*/0.5 Rings and Fields 3L
    Integers, polynomials, modular arithmetic, rings, ideals, homomorphisms, quotient rings, division algorithm, greatest common divisors, Euclidean domains, unique factorization, fields, finite fields.


    PHYS-453*/0.5 Specialist Physics Laboratory 6P
    To provide students in the SSP degree programs with experience in a range of advanced experiments and techniques. Four experiments are performed selected from, for example, pure and applied nuclear physics, Mössbauer spectroscopy, fluid mechanics, optics, magnetic resonance, quantum effects in the solid state, superconductivity, and superfluidity.

    this is a tough choice, because although the lab is more of what a physicist especially in PP, like to be involved in, I'm also inclined to take a lighter course since this is somewhat an elective choice - and the lab course would apparently take 6 hours a weeks of in lab time vs 3 hours for abstract algebra
  7. Jul 14, 2011 #6
    Lol at thinking of abstract algebra as a "lighter choice" :biggrin:

    Abstract algebra is extremely interesting, but it will perhaps not be as useful to a physicist. I think the lab will be way more useful to you.
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