Which Mathematics Course

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Geldhart
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:23 pm UTC

Which Mathematics Course

I am 36 years old and got my Bachelor of Education degree in 1998. After teaching for 3 years, I said "forget it" and went into IT. Now, I am enrolled in University again to get my Computer Science degree, as while there are things that I know how to do, there is an even longer list of things I'm not even sure where to start. I have 42 / 120 credit hours in transfer credit, which takes care of most of my electives.

I have transfer credit for Math 110 and Math 111, so I can't take them again, but I took them in 1993 and 1994, so I am very rusty with calculus. I am currently taking STAT 160, and will likely take Math 122 in May. STAT 160 has not been a problem for me at all so far.

The required courses are :

A) Math 110
Calculus I (Differentiation and integration of algebraic and trig functions. Limits, optimization, curve sketching, areas).

B) Math 111
Calculus II (Differentiation and integration of exponential and logarithmic functions, Indeterminate forms, L'Hospital's Rule, improper Integrals. First order differential equations, separable equations, linear equations, exact equations, modeling and applications.

C) Math 122
Linear Algebra (Matrices and systems of equations, inversion, determinates, vectors, inner products, eigenvectors, and eigenvalues.

D) Math 221
Introduction to Proofs (Mathematical reasoning and proof techniques, direct reasoning, indirect reasoning, induction

E) Stat 160
Introductory Statistics (Statistical methods, descriptive statistics, normal distribution, basic techniques of statistical inference, confidence intervals, hypotheis tests for population means and proportions, simple linear regression

F) One other Math or Stats course above 200.

Since I cannot take a full 15 credit hours a semester due to work requirements, and I want to complete the degree as quickly as possible, I plan on taking courses during the Spring and Summer while most regular students are gone. Based on my current plan I could finish by April 2014 IF I take my final Math course during a spring or summer session. To take in during the Fall or Winter semester will delay my graduation until December 2014 (most likely) or even possibly as late April 2015 due to a chain reaction with the pre-reqs for some CS courses. (Very few CS courses are offered in the Spring / Summer sessions, and I am already maxing out those options).

My realistic choices are :

**Stat 251 - Introduction to Probability (Discrete and continuous random variables, expectation, moment generating functions, joint discrete random variables. NOT OFFERED IN THE SPRING / SUMMER

**MATH 222 - Linear Algebra II (Emphasis on proofs, matrices, abstract vector spaces, subspaces, bases, inner product spaces, linear transformations, matrix factorizations, symmetric matrices, quadratic forms). NOT OFFERED IN THE SPRING / SUMMER

**MATH 213 - Vector Calculus (Vector functions, functions of several variables and derivatives, multiple integration, integration in polar, cylindrical, and spherical coordinates. Green's Stokes' and the Divergence Theorm. CAN BE TAKEN IN THE SPRING OR SUMMER

**MATH 217 - Differential Equations and Series (Second and Higher order ordinary differential equations, systems of differential equations, Laplace transforms, infinite series, convergence tests. Fourier series and series solutions to differential equations. CAN BE TAKEN IN THE SPRING OR SUMMER

**Math 232 - Non Euclidean Geometry, but I'm even MORE rusty in Geometry than I am in Calculus, as I haven't touch geometry since HIGH SCHOOL.

Knowing that I'm reasonably good with math and numbers, but I had reaching my "My Brain Hurts" point at differential equations back when I took calculus in 1994, what would you suggest? Is either Vector Calculus or Differential Equations plausible given that I am very rusty at the basics of Calculus? Or should I grin and bear it, and delay graduation and take a second course in Statistics or Linear Algebra since I won't be rusty at those disciplines?

Tirian
Posts: 1891
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:03 pm UTC

Re: Which Mathematics Course

If you don't like calculus, then Vector Calculus and DiffEqs would suck hard for you. You should talk to some professors to see whether Stat 251 is heavy on the calculus, because it's possible that it is.

Out of the list, I'd say that Linear Algebra 2 is the simplest but Non-Euclidean Geometry would probably be the most interesting and logical. If you can wait until you've had the first linear algebra and the proofs classes and then follow up with the one that you enjoyed the most, that might be the best strategy.

Geldhart
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:23 pm UTC

Re: Which Mathematics Course

It's not that I hate calculus, it's just that I'm very rusty with it, and started to find it difficult near the end of the second calculus course. I guess the good part is that I have about 12 months to decide what I'm going to do, but still nice to have a plan ahead of time.

freakish777
Posts: 354
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:14 pm UTC

Re: Which Mathematics Course

If you only have 1 more math course to choose from the second list I would suggest:

**Stat 251 - Introduction to Probability (Discrete and continuous random variables, expectation, moment generating functions, joint discrete random variables. NOT OFFERED IN THE SPRING / SUMMER

that one. Sounds similar to "Functions and Discreet Mathematics Course" I took, I can't say it's necessarily useful (some of it is, some of it probably would be more useful if I didn't do Web Development at the moment), but it was an easy A (check with other students at your school? and get a recommendation on a professor, more than anything else, get recommendations about professors).

Taking any calculus courses will not help you in 95%+ of Software Engineering/Computer Programming/IT jobs. Unless you plan on working for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories, or something else Physics related, you're not going to need it.

Alternatively Linear Algebra II might give you some marketability, in particular in the defense industry (Raytheon, Lockhead Martin, Harris Corp, satellite companies, etc if I'm not mistaken are all dependent on being able to make fast transformations to decrease communication lag).

LaserGuy
Posts: 4581
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:33 pm UTC

Re: Which Mathematics Course

Do you have a general idea of what you might like to do with your degree once you're finished?

Here's my general thoughts lacking that information...

Of the courses you're looking at, I would say non-Euclidean Geometry is probably the least useful in most practical situations. It's an interesting topic and kind of fun, but it's probably not going to be something you're going to be seeing in your field, unless you get into very, very, specific applications of IT. I don't know that your lack of geometry would actually hurt you as much as you think. A lot of the intuition for how things are supposed to behave in regular geometry is broken in Non-Euclidean (eg. angles in a triangle don't add to 180 degrees anymore).

Differential equations might be useful, but it depends how it is taught. A lot of these types of courses spend a huge amount of time going over, in somewhat agonizing detail, different methods of solving maybe 5 (somewhat) common types of differential equations that can be done analytically, then just say "and everything else you need a computer", and point you to a numerical methods class if you want to figure out how to do that.

Vector calculus will be brutal if you aren't up on your basic calculus. Really, really brutal. Having not done geometry since high school will probably compound your difficulties.

Linear algebra can be very useful for programming. Many internet search engines, for example, are built using these sorts of concepts.

Statistics is probably the most broadly applicable course on the list, IMHO. As a bonus, there's a chance that you might have to do some programming work in it since for many stats problems there's no easy way (and/or no reason) to compute them by hand. There's a decent chance that you'll have to do some calculus here, so you might want to refresh yourself on how to do basic derivatives and integrals, and why they might conceptually.

amit28it
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:26 am UTC
Location: Jaipur
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Re: Which Mathematics Course

I think it will be better for you to take Algebra as your main subject and in calculus "Integral Calculus " is good for you .But i will suggest you one thing before taking suggestions you will have to do practice on any one of them because math needs practice.

cowardly_knave
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2011 3:50 am UTC

Re: Which Mathematics Course

Although you'll never have to do formal math proofs as an IT guy, I think the "Introduction of Proofs" (MATH 221) class would be useful. It will give you explicit exposure to formal logic, which is helpful for anyone. Also it won't be numbers heavy, which you might find useful if you are currently rusty.

Another class which you didn't list but should look into is "Discrete Mathematics." This is not the same as statistics/discrete random variables; discrete math deals with things like networks which are very useful in the IT field.