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I am planning to do a lot of practice excersices in algebra over the summer vacation. We are using a textbook called "Algebra" by Mark Steinberger, and so I was looking for a solution manual for this textbook. Unfortuantely I couldn't find anything, so I will not be able to check my solutions...I know I can use another textbook that actually has the solutions, but I don't like to study from a certain textbook and then solve questions from another textbook, because the notation and style of questions might be different. And different textbooks orgainze the content in different ways, so sometimes a section at the very beginning of a textbook might be in the middle of another (so the questions might be based on a slightly different content). Also, some sections might not even be found in another textbook. So I was just wondering, is there like a website or anything where you can pay them to write up a solution manual? In other words, where did other textbooks get their solution manuals from?

Thanks in advance

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Unfortunately I am not able to answer your question. By all means, I don't think that a solution manual is that useful. Actually I think that it is better not to have solutions at hand. –  Giuseppe Negro Mar 1 '13 at 10:36
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@GiuseppeNegro But then I can't check my answers...how will I know if I'm doing it the wrong way? –  user58289 Mar 1 '13 at 10:39
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You'll have to check yourself, which is a very important ability to develop. To make a dumb example, if you have solved an equation, you can plug the result you obtained into the equation to see if it is correct. More generally, you can perform various tests on your result to see if it is reasonable. In my experience I have seen that being able to do those tests quickly and accurately is very useful both at exams and in real life. –  Giuseppe Negro Mar 1 '13 at 10:59
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Just post the question to math.stackexchange.com and you'll get help. –  Gibarian Mar 1 '13 at 11:39

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Solution manuals may be written by the textbook author and published by the same publisher as a companion volume for the instructor; or they might be issued by an outside entity as a way to complete assignments without doing the work. Compared to large undergraduate classes, the market for people with your motivation --who want to study on their own but want help with the solution-- is negligible.

You may be able to find a "cheater" website where solutions to textbook questions are traded, but since your topic is abstract algebra, I agree with @Giuseppe's comment: It's not likely to be much help. An introductory calculus textbook will have answers in the back, since a function has only one integral (up to a constant :-)). But there are many ways to prove or construct something. Suppose you prove a theorem, look in the solutions, and see a completely different proof. Or you see a similar proof, but with some different steps. What can you conclude? In other words, at this level it is usually impossible to check your answer by comparing it do another, correct answer. Advanced math books rarely give answers to all or most problems.

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Yes, it is true that there is no certain answer. But if you prove it in a certain way and then check the correct proof...you might still guess if you were on the right track (in terms of thinking). Anyways, thanks for you answer... –  user58289 Mar 1 '13 at 11:08
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Some of the best proofs approach a problem from a different track, by thinking about it differently. For sure there's some benefit to being able to look up an answer, but it won't help you as much as you expect. The only good way to check your proofs is to have someone look at them. (And this site is not a bad place for it). –  alexis Mar 1 '13 at 12:47

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