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I appologize if this isn't the place to ask, if it's not could you let me know and I will take it to meta? Anyway, so I am planning on taking a mathematical analysis course next spring, and I'm really excited about it because it seems so interesting and fun. However, I know this will be quite a challenging course and I am not going to give up. So I'm wondering if anyone could give me some advice on how to conquer this class besides the obvoius going to class and doing the homework?

We have to use Rudin's Mathematical Analysis as a textbook, and from what I have heard it seems to be the "bible" of mathematical analysis. So I would think reading the book will be a good way to keep up. But any other suggestions or tips from the pros? Any supplementary books that could explain certain topics in a more "dumbed down" way then Rudin does?

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Dear @Kyle: You should first attend the class and judge for yourself whether the professor is an effective instructor or not. That being said, start reading on your own, and do the problems in Rudin. – Rankeya Dec 4 '12 at 16:19
@Rankeya Yes perhaps you're right. I often forget about that. I also thought of another error in my judgement, so I'll change the question a little bit. Thanks for the reminder. – TheHopefulActuary Dec 4 '12 at 16:22
One part of this sort of mathematics that might be new to you is the definitions. I found it useful to copy the definitions to a separate page as I was going along, so when, several pages later, Rudin uses a term, I didn't need to flip back through the book to find the definition. – Thomas Andrews Dec 4 '12 at 16:27
up vote 16 down vote accepted

I wouldn't take ratings/reviews from too literally. After all, it seems to me that it is much more likely that disgruntled students are going to go out of their way to (be)rate a professor than are those who have no complaints and would otherwise rate highly.

You've got the opportunity to get a "head start": use that opportunity to "preview" the text. E.g., read the Intro, the Table of Contents, and start tackling the first chapter prior to the start of class, if possible. Once class begins:

  • Yes, go to class!

  • Yes, do the homework!

  • Yes, read the book!:


  • "Write the book!"
    (I.e., Take notes; work through all the proofs in the text and fill in any steps that help connect the steps given by Rudin; create a list of definitions and add definitions to that list as you encounter them; work the problems, not just those that are assigned.)

It never hurts to have a supplementary text to refer to, for alternate proofs and explication:

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+1 for "write the book" advice, a seldom noted nugget of wisdom :) – Alex Nelson Dec 4 '12 at 16:29
Yes I must agree with Alex I havent heard that piece of advice before. Are there any other good supplementary books? I just want to check and see if any of them are on reserve at the library. – TheHopefulActuary Dec 4 '12 at 16:47
+1 for last sentence and "write a book"! – Frenzy Li Dec 4 '12 at 16:52

The simple "secret" to ace any class is to be ahead of the class. If you can lay your hands on the course material upfront then you can stay ahead. But at the end of the day, you will learn a lot more engaging on sites like stackexchange :)

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