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Just curious, when should I learn linear algebra in college?

And when is linear algebra usually taught?

What precedes linear algebra and what usually goes after linear algebra courses?

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Here it is taken concurrently with the first calculus course. In the fall (=the first semester) of freshman year. –  Jyrki Lahtonen Aug 25 '12 at 15:41
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You should direct your first question to an adviser who is acquainted with the peculiarities of your school and your academic record. –  Adam Saltz Aug 25 '12 at 16:34
    
My school offered it right after the standard calculus sequence. –  tatterdemalion Aug 25 '12 at 17:48
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4 Answers 4

I would suggest taking it after having taken a physics course. That way you'll know about vectors and systems of equations and then the transition to linear algebra will be smooth.

Lots of stuff comes after linear algebra since it is used everywhere: abstract algebra, functional analysis, numerical analysis, just to name a few.

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I studied linear algebra my first semester in college, in fact, every math and engineering student at my college have a course in linear algebra in their first semester.

I think that linear algebra is not a very difficult course, also, since it is so important in many other courses and considered basic I would reccomend that you also take it in your first semester, or at least in the first year.

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My college only offers one true linear algebra class, and it's often taken by second semester freshmen or first semester sophomores. The prerequisite is multivariable calculus (i.e. 3 semesters of calculus), but in hindsight, I probably could have done just as well if I only had two semesters. It was heavily proof-based, so perhaps that's the reason why some people didn't take it their first semester. Personally, I would take it after you've got a solid grasp of vectors.

What usually comes after linear algebra? Abstract algebra and real analysis are one, for instance. But then again, those two "come after" virtually any proofs based course. A solid linear algebra class will prepare you well for those two core classes.

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I live in the U.S., and both my undergrad and grad school are in the U.S.

At my undergrad University, the prereq for linear algebra is calculus 1. And, linear algebra is a prereq to the math reasoning class, also known as intro to proofs. And, that class is the prereq to 75% of all the upper level math classes. So, it's important to take it early if you want to take other math classes. I took linear algebra my first semester in college but I was the only freshman in the class and it was the only linear algebra course taught. That allowed me to take the intro to proofs classes my second semester which allowed me to take upper level math classes my second year. Probably a lot of the other people good at math took linear algebra their second semester or the first semester of their sophomore year.

At my graduate university, the undergrad linear algebra has as prereqs two semesters of calculus. But, linear algebra is not a prereq for the intro to proof course here. However, it is a prereq for abstract algebra.

So, as you can see, the answer to your question depends on your university. Talk to your adviser. If your major isn't math and you aren't sure your adviser knows enough, talk to a math professor.

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