# Which subject is easier to pick up? (Undergraduate maths)

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• Cordelia
In summary, the conversation discusses two alternatives for completing a degree - point set topology and numerical methods. The speaker suggests that numerical methods may be easier for most students due to its practical application, while point set topology involves more abstract concepts. However, the choice ultimately depends on the individual's interests and career goals.
Cordelia
Hello all.To complete my degree, I need to take one of the two alternatives:
1. Point set topology
2. Numerical methods

Which alternative is easier to pick up and do better in? I should mention that I do not have any programming experience whatsoever!

I should think numerical methods which will involve ordinary math functions being used in numerically integrating differential equations.

Point set topology will involve definitions, theorems and proofs.

Personally, I'd be more comfortable in numerical methods and you'd now learn how to program.

Cordelia said:
Which alternative is easier to pick up and do better in?
I think that depends on the person. Probably for the majority of students "numerical methods" would be easier (because less abstract), but I also know mathematics students that would do well in "point-set topology" but for whom "numerical methods" would be an ordeal.

What is it that you would like to do with your undergraduate degree? If you want to enter the job market, I would pick "numerical methods". If you are interested in continuing your studies then, depending on your preferred field, "point-set topology" may be a better choice. In addition to being interesting in its own right, it underpins much of analysis and forms the basis for studying other branches of topology.

Last edited:
Fredrik and jedishrfu

## 1. What are the main differences between calculus and algebra?

Calculus and algebra are both branches of mathematics, but they have some fundamental differences. Algebra deals with the manipulation and solution of equations and expressions, while calculus is concerned with the study of continuous change and its applications. Algebra is more abstract and focuses on symbols and equations, while calculus is more concrete and involves graphical representations and real-world problems.

## 2. Which subject is more useful in everyday life, calculus or algebra?

Both calculus and algebra have practical applications in everyday life. Algebra is useful for solving problems involving quantities, such as budgeting, calculating interest rates, and understanding patterns and relationships. Calculus is helpful for understanding rates of change, such as in physics, economics, and engineering. Ultimately, the usefulness of each subject depends on the individual's needs and interests.

## 3. Is it necessary to have a strong foundation in algebra before learning calculus?

Yes, a strong understanding of algebra is essential for success in calculus. Many of the concepts and techniques in calculus are built upon algebraic principles, such as solving equations, factoring, and manipulating expressions. It is recommended to have a thorough understanding of algebra before moving on to calculus.

## 4. Which subject is more difficult, calculus or algebra?

This is a subjective question and can vary from person to person. Some may find algebra more challenging due to its abstract nature and the need for strong problem-solving skills. Others may struggle with calculus because it involves new concepts and requires a strong foundation in algebra. Ultimately, both subjects require practice and dedication to master.

## 5. Can I learn calculus without knowing algebra?

No, it is not possible to learn calculus without a solid understanding of algebra. As mentioned earlier, calculus builds upon algebraic principles and without a strong foundation in algebra, it will be difficult to grasp the concepts and techniques in calculus. It is recommended to have a thorough understanding of algebra before attempting to learn calculus.

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