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Which to take? (Need a decision on a math course)

  1. Oct 25, 2013 #1
    For my current set of classes I'm going to be able to take either probability and statistics or college algebra with modeling (could someone explain modeling?) I've always wanted to take prob/statistics but don't want to jump in and miss something important, and also, are prob and statistics even relevant to an EE degree? Could I skip college algebra and go to the real stuff?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2013 #2


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    I'm in calculus right now, and personally, I would not have wanted to skip College Algebra. There's a lot more algebra involved in Calculus than some people realize at first. Things like finding derivatives and limits basically turn into a huge mess of algebra at times, and without a rigorous understanding of the algebra behind it, it can get complicated. Professors will always treat Calculus in different ways, but a solid understanding of trig functions and trig identities is pretty important too. My professor loves trig, and uses a lot of it in his Calculus lectures and exams.

    I learned a lot in College Algebra. It tends to be a lot more in depth than previous algebra classes were. You usually get a pretty rigorous treatment of both conic sections and logarithms, do a decent amount of work with sequences/series, cover a lot of concepts like minima/maxima that become crucial in calculus, amongst many other topics.

    The modeling part most likely refers to applications of the the topics. Things like using exponential/logarithmic functions in biology for modeling population growth/decline, modeling bacteria reproduction rates...other things like how to use conic sections in their countless applications.
  4. Oct 25, 2013 #3
    Probability and Stats are useful in EE but only if you go far enough and focus on controls and signals processing and perhaps end up in graduate school focusing on the stuff.
  5. Oct 25, 2013 #4


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    I believe the “with modeling” part means there will be more applied problems/real world usage/data involved. They may or may not use a programming language like matlab/Fortran depending on the class and who is teaching it.

    You should see if the professor has a website with any further information, maybe even a class syllabus online.

    If you're shaky in algebra I would take college algebra. It is basically all the "real stuff" you'll use as an engineer once you're employed and have nice programs that do all the heavy lifting for you. : P

    I only kid about the last part, but you can't do anything algebra. That class will likely touch on stats/probability anyway. Or if you're torn, do them both.
  6. Oct 27, 2013 #5


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    College algebra, by far, for EE. You will have to learn that no matter what. You can probably get an EE degree without taking probability and statistics (not that I'm advocating that).
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