# Which should I take first?

CalcDude
Which should I take first????

I just finished Multi-Variable Calculus (Calc 3) this summer and my my school offers Linear Algebra and Differential Equations as two separate classes in the fall. So, I was wondering, which should I take first, Linear Algebra or Differential Equations? What is the best choice?

## Answers and Replies

Homework Helper
Gold Member
I took Diff EQ first and had no problem. There is a little bit of linear algebra used in Diff, but not much at all, and what is used is pretty easy. They are both important classes, so make sure you take both. I'd say go with Diff EQ, since I really liked the class, but then again, I'm not taking Linear until the fall, so I don't know if that class is more interesting or not.

wildman
I'd take DIFF EQ first. Eigenvalues and vectors are one of the most important parts of linear Algebra and knowing Diff Equations really helps in understanding them.

t!m
I have to go the other way with this one ... for the exact same but opposite reason as wildman. Personally, I think linear algebra serves as a better introduction to concepts such as vectors, eigenvalues, linear (in)dependence, span, etc. which can be helpful for when they show up in diffeq.

Staff Emeritus
I studied the two topics concurrently, so I don't think it matters which one you take first.

huckmank
Doesn't matter. DiffEQ is technically the more advanced class, but it utilizes very little linear algebra. I took DiffEQ first and had no issues understanding what was going on.

proton
I agree with t!m. Linear algebra helps with understanding systems of DE's. Then again, I've never tried learning DE before Lin Alg

ice109
see if theres an engineering math class at your school, they teach linear alg and de simultaneously

in my d.e. class, the prof referred to an idea or two from linear algebra, and in linear algebra the prof had us solve differential equations a couple times.

:tongue2:

^_^physicist
I managed to take classes that required linear algebra without taking it until this coming fall term without much difficulty; however, had I taken these same classes (diff. geo and tensor anayalsis), without diff.EQ. I would have been up a creek.

My advice, take the differential equations class first, as you will start seeing these alot in your physics classes, and then put linear algebra on the back seat.

CalcDude
Hello again, I am selecting my classes right now, so far I have 1st semester physics (w/calc) (5 units), linear algebra (3 units), and english (4 units). Do you think it would be a good idea to add differential equations (3 units) to the schedule?

proton
sounds ok to me