English | Español

Try our Free Online Math Solver!

Online Math Solver












Please use this form if you would like
to have this math solver on your website,
free of charge.

Preparation for Physics

Minimum Mathematical Background (Prerequisite: MA 106 or equivalent)
Required for PH 101-103 and PH 221-222 (with calculus)
by David G. Agresti, Professor of Physics, UAB
Bring to all classes: Scientific calculator and centimeter-based ruler and/or triangles.

1. Arithmetic

+ , - , × (or · ) , ÷ (or / ) , and powers

Examples: Note order !

2. Scientific Notation

Powers of 10

: (both have 3 sig. digits)

3. Geometry

Drawing and properties of 2 and 3-D figures

Properties of rectangles , triangles, cylinders, spheres, etc.
Formulas for areas, volumes, perimeters of above
Angles in triangles and intersecting lines ; degrees and radians
Compass directions; vectors and vector operations (optional)

4. Trigonometry

Relations among sides (a, b, c) and angles (α, β) in a right (90°) triangle
Find missing information, given two sides or one side and an angle (≠90°)


5. Graphing

2- and 3-D figures showing functional relationships and position in space

Position coordinates in 2-D: (x, y) ; (r, θ)
Position coordinates in 3-D:
Functions of one and two variables: y = f (x); z = g (x, y)
Graphs of simple functions:   etc.

6. Algebra

Manipulation of expressions with variables

Examples: Addition of polynomials
Solving quadratic equations
Solving for unknowns in one or more equations
Note two rules for equations:
Do unto one side as you do unto the other.
N unknowns require N independent equations.

7. Proportions and ratios

Change in one variable when another one changes

Examples: Suppose a = b/c . Then, assuming the other quantity is constant:
Direct proportions are: ; (read: "a is proportional to b")
Thus, e.g., if b is doubled, then a is doubled also.
Inverse proportion is: ; ("a is inversely proportional to c")
Thus, if c is doubled, then a is halved.
Ratios: Direct prop.:   ( ratio is constant )
Inverse prop.:   ( product is constant )

8. Use of the calculator

Scientific calculator is required.

Examples of calculator operations you should be able to perform:


9. Calculus (required only for PH 221-222)

Simple derivatives, integrals, and related concepts,
including analytic geometry, limits, slopes, and extrema

Derivatives of simple functions:
Graphical interpretation of slope ; rate
Maxima, minima, inflection points
Antiderivatives of simple functions
Definite integrals, area, volume

Prev Next