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I hope I won't tire the fellow mathematicians with this question but I am very, very confused...

I am a first year undergraduate student of Mathematics.

I can't say I am a prodigy, maybe having an average brain but decided to study math.

I was never quite good at handling numbers, I remember my grade at secondary school being 8 out of 20. I was constantly asking the teacher to explain to me in a better way how everything "worked", and instead of helping me out he was shouting at me and constantly called me idiot and stupid. I was also not good at chemistry and theoretical subjects such as ancient language, literature and history, so I had no idea which career path to follow.

When I entered high school, at 15, I was still having trouble with mathematics, but things were getting better. I started extra classes, and from then I started to improve my grades.

At almost every solution of an exercise I was proposing to the teacher a second or a third way to solve it. He was looking at me for a moment, took a while to think and then respond to me that this solution is also correct.

A year before I entered university, at the last class of high school I had 20/20 in grades. But I guess that was mainly because I studied all day.

Now at university, as a first year mathematics student, I ask others why the chosen to study mathematics and everyone answers me "Because I like math". I can't say I like math, but I enjoy the ones that enable the mind to think abstractly and visually(like Linear Algebra, Geometry, 3d spaces etc). Plain Algebra and Calculus is not really my subjects. (I'm left handed, don't know if this has anything to do with my difficulties at algebra).

I study all day, have lost most of my hobbies, and yet my grades are poor. At the first test I had at algebra I got a mark of 3/10 (though I study the course all day in order to undersand it thoughoutly). A friend of mine, who is is in the same class, claims he never studied at home (he attends the lectures) and got 10/10. He has lost a couple of lectures but I have attended all of them.

I have a keen interest in computers. I wanted to study computer science or electrical engineering but I found that mathematics is a good subject to study and obtain a degree in computer science.

For example, in secondary school I started programming and in high school I studied graph theory and artificial intelligence.

I study mathematics mainly for the section of Computer Science. I really enjoy the courses related to it, for example I am currently studying theoretical computer science which is a course we get at the second year. I ask lot of questions to the professor and he asks about my progress frequently.

I asked the algebra Professor why I did not perfom well at the test though I study and he said that "I am slow".

Now you may wonder what the main question I have is?

I would like to ask, the fellow students as well as professors, did you choose the mathematics department because you like Mathematics?

I am aware that professors choose and do research at a certain department (eg Algebra or Computer Science). When you, the professors were students, were you getting 10's at every single course? Was, a famous mathematician with fundamental theorems in geometry for example, getting 10's at algebra or logic?

And lastly, what exactly is going wrong with me? Am I stupid or does the fact that I was not getting well with numbers from a young age stand as an obstacle towards my aim to get a math degree?

Attempted solution to exercise proposed by Adam :

$n(n+1)(2n +1) | 6 \Rightarrow $

$6 = m(n(n+1)(2n+1)), m \epsilon \mathbb{ Z+}$

For n=1 : $6 = m(1(1+1)(2 +1)) \Rightarrow$

$6 = 6m \Rightarrow m =1$ true

Induction Hypothesis : Let $6 = m(k(k+1)(2k+1)), \forall k \geq n.$ (1)

$6 = w(k+1)(k+2)(2k +2) +1)$

but from here I have no idea how I'm going to use equation (1) to help me prove that this equation is also true.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Lord_Farin, vonbrand, PVAL, Normal Human, Yagna Patel Aug 25 at 1:45

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I started college in E.E. but switched when I found it very boring. I'm studying math now and, yes, I chose it because I like mathematics. If you're forcing yourself to study math, you probably wont ever like it. If you want to do computer science instead, go for it. I'm sure you can make a nice career out of it. Further, once you finish required math classes at your uni (generally calculus and linear algebra) you can focus only on those math classes that you like, or have direct applications into your field. Don't force yourself to be a mathematician, it probably wont happen. –  doppz Dec 9 '13 at 14:02
@doppz thanks for your comment! That's mainly what I want to achieve, my interests are mathematics related to computer science and applications to it. Wouldn't I be a mathematician with this? Or a mathematician is considered someone who likes algebra and calculus? Can't a mathematician do research on automata for instance, or mathematical logic? I'm confused. –  Nickolas Dec 9 '13 at 14:07
Computer science is a perfectly acceptable domain of research for a mathematician. If in doubt, look at the math in books from Knuth, for instance. –  Jean-Claude Arbaut Dec 9 '13 at 14:11
There are two issues you raise: not being good at math and not enjoying math. I wouldn't worry too much about the former. As far as the latter goes, I would say that you are fine, as long as there is something that genuinly interests you in math. Of course you can choose a specialization of your liking later on. –  Adam Dec 9 '13 at 14:12
There is a big transition from grade-school mathematics to university mathematics, especially if you head more towards an "honours" or grad-school track in university. There's nothing wrong with spending more than a normal amount of time in the "transition". Everyone processes things differently. People who may seem "quick" with this material may very well burn-out not too far into the future. If you enjoy it, especially if you find it challenging, that's a good sign you're on a productive road. –  Ryan Budney Jan 8 '14 at 6:51

1 Answer 1

After a year and a half of maturing as a student of mathematics, I think it's time to answer my own question!

The biggest challenge for me was the transition from high school mathematics to university mathematics and abstract thinking. In high school, althouh we did a lot of calculus we took everything for granted and never wondered why. Thus I believe an issue was getting into abstract thinking, notation, understanding definitions, stating theorems and writing proofs. At least for myself, this way of thinking was a big challenge for me, but now I'm getting used to it!

To conclude and answer my question:

Are you intested in mathematics? Yes, otherwise I would choose another science. I think it's natural that some fields interest me more than others, thus I study more advanced topics and extended bibliography at these.

But what about the other fields you "don't like" that much? Every field in mathematics is useful and most of the time many different fields borrow the same theory(e.g cryptography is based on number theory, algebraic structures and algorithmic analysis). I love it!

To be a bit "quicker" in comprehending the course material I study a bit more and ask as many questions as I can to understand why a statement holds.

Of course, math requires dedication, which I am willing to spend!

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