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Importance of Math in Chemistry

nepatsfan1281nepatsfan1281 Posts: 8Registered User New Member
edited February 2010 in Science Majors
I'm thinking about majoring in chemistry. I like science but I'm not so good at math. I know physics is very math intensive, but what about chem. For example, if 100% of physics involves math, what % of Chemistry involves math? Also, what level of math do you need for chemistry? Do you need to excel at math or can you just get by taking Calc I,II? I hear that Physicists use high level calculus daily, but chemists don't need that much calculus just algebra for their job(Lab Tech,etc.).
Post edited by nepatsfan1281 on

Replies to: Importance of Math in Chemistry

  • b@r!umb@r!um Posts: 9,287Registered User Senior Member
    The more physicsy chemistry courses at my college require calc III and linear algebra. Not sure how many of those are required for a chemistry major though.
  • flemmydflemmyd Posts: 525Registered User Member
    physical chem is a one year sequence. even that is pretty tame, its possible to learn all the matrix algebra you need from the chemistry teacher! the big deal is the conceptual stuff.

    after that, you may never need to touch math again, aside from basic algebra.
    on the other hand, you can specialize in physical chemistry- that will involve more physic classes, a physics minor if you will.
  • spdfspdf Posts: 955Registered User Member
    The biggest difference in math between physics and chemistry isn't the percentage, but the type of math. If you're good at algebra and log/anti-log (both natural and base 10), you're pretty much good to go for general chemistry. There's a little bit of geometry involved as well when looking at bond angles and molecular shapes, and that part carries over into the second year of chemistry (organic chem). The killer course for most chem majors is Physical Chemistry during junior year, and this is really the only semester when calculus enters the game. Most chemists back away from P Chem after that and live in a world of algebra and geometry happily ever after.
  • gravenewworldgravenewworld Posts: 348Registered User Member
    You'll never pass physical chemistry without being solid in math. You also need to use a fair bit of math in a course like instrumental analysis or inorganic chemistry (group theory).
  • Mr. BojanglesMr. Bojangles Posts: 824Registered User Member
    Yeah pchem and analytical suck if you're not good at math but there's many other areas of chemistry where all you need is very basic math. Most math in biochem is plug-and-chug style (partition coefficients, michaelis-menten, henderson-hasselbach, etc), and organic chemists hardly use math at all. A fundamental understanding of calculus is usually required (Calc I, II, III)..but it shouldn't be a big deal if you just follow the material while taking the class.

    The more you get into transport and pharmacokinetics the better you need to be at things like differential equations.
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