# learning math

• August 24th, 2012, 02:13 PM
misfit
learning math
anyone know the most useful type of math i should learn in order to start learning things (maybe physics?)
• August 24th, 2012, 02:26 PM
TheObserver
What is your background like? Basic physics is basically solving calculus problems so you will probably want to start there. Look up Khan academy as a great way to get into beginner calculus.
• August 24th, 2012, 05:17 PM
misfit
what should i learn before calculus? lol
• August 25th, 2012, 04:07 AM
Markus Hanke
Quote:

Originally Posted by misfit
what should i learn before calculus? lol

That would be elementary algebra then - obviously you will need to be fairly proficient in that before you can tackle calculus !
• August 26th, 2012, 10:30 AM
epidecus
Quote:

Originally Posted by misfit
what should i learn before calculus? lol

Pretty much what most (American) students learn in high school: algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. These are the main pre-calculus subjects.

Have you mastered introductory and elementary algebra? Like...

Expand using the distributive property.

If , and , then does have a real solution?

What is the range of the function ?

(If you know your math, I know this involves some analysis, but the idea holds). So misfit, if you find you can't answer these questions, then try getting the hang of algebra, since it's critical to everything you'll learn afterwards. :) If you don't find these questions all that difficult, then tell me otherwise.
• August 26th, 2012, 06:00 PM
misfit
alright i have a algebra 1 school book i think im going to try and teach myself algebra! any tips or advice?
• August 26th, 2012, 06:36 PM
epidecus
My suggestion ... If you don't get a certain topic, if you can't solve a particular problem, if you're ever having trouble understanding anything, then just give us a shout here in the math section :) Ask away to your heart's content, no matter how basic your question seems or how easy the problem should be.

And remember, it's not just the specific mathy problems you can ask about. Not to say the raw math isn't important, but I think the best questions are about the essence behind the subjects you'll be learning, how they tie in to other fields of math, and their application in the real world. So good luck!
• August 26th, 2012, 08:26 PM
TheObserver
• August 27th, 2012, 09:42 AM
Wise Man
Quote:

Originally Posted by misfit
anyone know the most useful type of math i should learn in order to start learning things (maybe physics?)

Go study linear algebra, if your goal is relativity,
• August 27th, 2012, 04:09 PM
epidecus
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wise Man
linear algebra

Yep, pretty essential.

And as a side note for misfit, a general understanding of vectors and matrix operations is highly recommended before diving into Linear Algebra. Since I'm not a physicist, nor a mathematician, I'm not sure if this is considerably correct, but I think a mastery of calculus and linear algebra is extremely essential in learning physics.

By the way, when do students majoring in a mathematical or physics-related subject usually learn Linear Algebra? Isn't it like some time after finishing differential equations? Or before? I really don't know how it goes. :oops:
• August 28th, 2012, 11:58 PM
TheObserver
I took linear algebra in my first two semesters, and didn't do my first ODE course until second semester of second year. This was for a prescribed mathematical physics program.
• August 29th, 2012, 03:00 AM
Markus Hanke
Quote:

Originally Posted by epidecus
I'm not sure if this is considerably correct, but I think a mastery of calculus and linear algebra is extremely essential in learning physics.

Definitely correct. Without these, most especially calculus, you will be going nowhere.
• August 29th, 2012, 03:09 AM
But get your grounding right. Calculus is near enough to undoable if you're not well skilled in algebra and trigonometry in the first place.
• August 29th, 2012, 03:13 AM
Markus Hanke
Quote:

But get your grounding right. Calculus is near enough to undoable if you're not well skilled in algebra and trigonometry in the first place.

Absolutely right.
• September 3rd, 2012, 11:50 PM
misfit
thanks for your replys iv been on khanacademy for a couple weeks now and am liking it. but the problem im having is there is so much to learn and im not trying to learn a whole subject in math if it wont matter to me if anyone has any suggestions or advice i would really love to hear it
• September 4th, 2012, 12:38 AM
Your biggest problem is that you don't really know what you don't know and you don't know how much of what seems too much or irrelevant right now will actually become important when you move into another topic.

I still remember from nearly fifty years ago the shock I felt when doing some calculus exercise or another that OMG that's why we learnt all that trigonometry. Up until that point I'd just accepted that what we'd done in earlier years was just maths apprenticeship or something, not that it was an important part of the picture in a much larger jigsaw.

For now? I'm presuming that you're doing algebra or trig, if I were you I'd concentrate on developing the skills you're being taught. Being able to fluently manipulate equations or effortlessly remember trig identities are absolutely essential for any further study in maths or physics.
• September 4th, 2012, 08:52 AM
Ron Jon
I am in your same situation misfits. It's a long journey. For me, I choose college.

I am taking a college algebra (first semester college math course) class now, with hopes of taking college trigonometry after, and then another math class. And finally, going into the three calculus classes. This will be my first two years of college math. Lots of math, but I am looking to get a degree in physics.

I found starting with College algebra, a lot of difficulty. I have not been in school for over 5 years, meaning I lost a lot of my basic math. So I had to do the review to college algebra to quickly gain proficiency for the course.

The basics must be learned first, but calculus is a good goal to look towards.