Questions related to the teaching and learning of mathematics.

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23
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1answer
475 views

How much math education was typical in the 18th & 19th century?

Was it unusual for people in those days to learn Calculus? Could a grad student take a course in differential equations or multi-variable Calculus, or did they have to learn from journals? I am always ...
22
votes
11answers
3k views

Vivid examples of vector spaces?

When teaching abstract vector spaces for the first time, it is handy to have some really weird examples at hand, or even some really weird non-examples that may illustrate the concept. For example, a ...
22
votes
5answers
3k views

Is a good GRE score enough for a non-math graduate to be accepted in a decent pure mathematics graduate program?

I have a computer engineering degree , and i have studied several mathematics courses like single variable and multiples variables calculus , complex variables , probability , numerical analysis ... ...
22
votes
9answers
6k views

What is the (mathematical) point of geometric constructions?

The ancient discipline of construction by straightedge and compass is both fascinating and entertaining. But what is its significance in a mathematical sense? It is still taught in high school ...
22
votes
5answers
2k views

Math GRE Subject Exam

I am studying for the GRE Mathematics subject exam [1]. I am looking for tips regarding how to more effectively study for it. Does anyone know of any good study materials or have any tips in general? ...
21
votes
6answers
944 views

Why do new rules cause students to forget and misapply older rules?

I teach at a community college. I have taught everything from arithmetic to linear algebra. I have also taught at 4-year schools, but at present, I'm devoting my energies to the problem of helping ...
21
votes
4answers
843 views

Understanding mathematics imprecisely

For a long time, it has been a complete mystery to me how any of my peers understood any math at all with anything short of filling in every detail, being careful about every set theoretic detail down ...
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Is all of mathematics based on logic?

I do not understand the discipline in mathematics that is called "mathematical logic". For me, all of mathematics is based on logic and that is what makes it the exact science. Every theorem or lemma ...
20
votes
8answers
2k views

I'm teaching a college geometry course. What should I cover?

I've been asked to teach "Foundations of Geometry" at the University of South Carolina. Apparently, professors in the past have all done very different things, and I have a lot of choice in the ...
19
votes
4answers
1k views

How to respond to “solve this equation” in a basic algebra class

If it's acceptable practice on math.se, I'd like to really only ask this question of math educators as opposed to students or mathematical researchers. Some researchers will undoubtedly think the ...
19
votes
5answers
555 views

$\epsilon, \delta$…So what?

Over the course of my studies I often encounter phrases in reference material of the type "and this avoids the need for using $\epsilon$, $\delta$ definitions" or "by this we can omit those ...
17
votes
7answers
5k views

How to show every subgroup of a cyclic group is cyclic?

I'm teaching a group theory course now, and I wanted to give my students a proof that every subgroup of a cyclic group is cyclic. The easiest way I could think to do this is to say that any cyclic ...
17
votes
6answers
2k views

How to go from beginner to expert in mathematics?

I'm particularly interested in knowing the order of subjects one should study to become good in mathematics. In my not so great knowledge of the subject I would say that the best place to start could ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Bridging any “gaps” between AP Calculus and College/Univ level Calculus II

I've been asked to tutor a soon-to-be college freshman who has taken AP Calculus and successfully earned college credit for first semester calculus. He has been admitted to an Engineering program, ...
17
votes
5answers
753 views

Fun math outreach/social activities

What are some great math social activities for students? I'm looking for things that bring people together with a "light" mathematical touch. The goal is to create a stronger mathematical community in ...
17
votes
5answers
513 views

Proving a certain map on the closed unit disc must be the identity

Bounty expired. Will gladly re-create one if a satisfactory answer is posted in the future. Prove: Let $f$ be a continuous function on the closed unit disc with two properties: 1. $f$ is the ...
16
votes
11answers
860 views

Why limits work

I'm currently a first year student in electrical engineering and computer science. I know how to compute limits, derivatives, integrals with respect to one variable that is things from one variable ...
16
votes
5answers
568 views

Math department space design ideas

I'm looking for resources on design space for academic departments, particularly, We've been asked to provide ideas on designing a "dream math department". I'd like to gather some ideas for doing ...
16
votes
7answers
695 views

Exciting games and material to motivate children to math

We are a group of people trying to motivate children, especially living in the countryside, to science and math. We have different activities with children such as doing scientific experiments and ...
16
votes
4answers
416 views

Mathematical Habit

Whenever I have to do proofs or understand a concept, I start with examples and generalize. As an aspiring mathematician, I have fears that it might hurt me, especially when we have so many ...
16
votes
4answers
934 views

Grasping mathematics

First, I'm not trying to make this sound like a "poor-me" story. I understand fully that every decision I've made leading to this is my fault. I am genuinely looking for advice. So, I am a high ...
16
votes
1answer
397 views

Learning Math Efficienctly and Succeeding in Grad School

I'm currently a second year Ph.D. student studying pure math. I've recently come to the conclusion that I must be studying wrong. Actually, more to the point, I must be thinking about mathematics ...
16
votes
1answer
204 views

How often should math students take day breaks and longer breaks or vacations? Any research?

John Edensor Littlewood wrote in page 197 of Littlewood's Miscellany "For a week without teaching duties - and here I think I am preaching to the converted - I believe in on afternoon and the ...
15
votes
5answers
916 views

Is high school contest math useful after high school?

I've been prepping for a lot of high school math competitions this year, and I was just wondering if all the math I learn would actually mean something in college. There is a chance that all of it ...
15
votes
8answers
1k views

When is something “obvious”?

I try to be a good student but I often find it hard to know when something is "obvious" and when it isn't. Obviously (excuse the pun) I understand that it is specific to the level at which the writer ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

What does Khan Academy have to offer? Depth? Rigor?

Khan Academy - http://www.khanacademy.org/ - is often cited as a great online resource for learning mathematics and other subjects. I have heard many good things about this website and was wondering ...
15
votes
8answers
877 views

Should a high school introductory calculus class teach $\varepsilon$-$\delta$ proofs?

It seems to me that most high school students are comfortable with the intuitive notion of a limit ("as $x$ gets arbitrarily close to $c$, $f(x)$ gets arbitrarily close to $L$") and gain little ...
15
votes
4answers
686 views

Why study Hopf Algebras?

I'm looking for reasons that motivate the study of Hopf Algebra, like its applications in other branches of mathematics or maybe with physics. The first I've got is that they're interesting by ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

Complete undergraduate bundle-pack [closed]

First of all I'm sorry if this is not the right place to post this. I like math a lot. But I'm not sure if i want to do a math major in college. My question is: Can you give me a list of books that ...
15
votes
5answers
665 views

Definition of definition

I was wondering if there is a good way to "define" what definition means exactly in mathematics. Since the answers may be subjective or philosophical, I want to ask only for references on this topic. ...
15
votes
7answers
365 views

Common inadequate definitions

I had the good fortune of assigning the following problem on the first day of my freshman honors calculus course: Is $a$ contained in the interval $[a,a)$? Explain. The majority of my students ...
15
votes
7answers
7k views

Online Math Degree Programs

Are there any real online mathematics (applied math, statistics, ...) degree programs out there? I'm full-time employed, thus not having the flexibility of attending an on campus program. I also ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

GRE past papers

As it is required for most students who wish to do a Ph.D in maths in the US to sit the GRE subject specific mathematics exam, I hope this question will be of interest to the mathematical community ...
14
votes
12answers
2k views

How to explain the perpendicularity of two lines to a High School student?

Today I was teaching my friend from High School about linear functions. One of the exercises we had to do was finding equations of perpendicular and parallel lines. Explaining parallel equations was ...
14
votes
11answers
663 views

Maths at university [closed]

Next year I'm going to start university (maths, obviously), and would like to ask you (I suppose you're mathematicians or, at least, people who studied maths somehow) some advice: what did you learn ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

No radical in the denominator — why?

Why do all school algebra texts define simplest form for expressions with radicals to not allow a radical in the denominator. For the classic example, $1/\sqrt{3}$ needs to be "simplified" to ...
14
votes
8answers
2k views

What math should a programmer know?

I am an application programmer focussing on Line Of Business (LOB) applications. I am from non-mathematics and non-CS background. What mathematics should I learn which help me improve my programming ...
14
votes
7answers
1k views

Films about math: a question about math education and motivation for learning math

I'm interested in movies about or related with mathematics or physics, I mean not documentaries which I also consider movies, but artistic or mainstream films about math. Now I have the following in ...
14
votes
5answers
756 views

Is the skill to learn new math by reading textbook alone (no lectures) required when one becomes a PhD student?

I've taken a few math classes in college. I'm wondering as one graduates college and applies to become a PhD student in math, is he/she going to be required to learn math related materials alone ...
14
votes
5answers
610 views

Do non-mathematical fields use the appropriate level of analytic/probabilistic rigor?

Talking to students in different areas and taking different classes in math, physics, electrical engineering I have been struck by the differing amounts of rigor in use. I know little about economics ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Books to study for Math GRE, self-study, have some time.

I just graduated from a regional university in the US with a minor in mathematics. There is a masters program overseas, for economics, that I want to attend but they require applicants to take the ...
14
votes
8answers
1k views

Elementary Papers at ArXiv

Inspired by this question, at MO i am asking this question. Can anyone list some elementary articles at ArXiv which can be understood by High-School/Undergrad Students. I am asking this because, i ...
14
votes
4answers
490 views

Reflections on math education

Why is there such a big difference in math education between The Americas and (Europe and Asia) ? except for a few privileged who have the opportunity to access to math much earlier than the ordinary ...
14
votes
2answers
355 views

How to deal with exercises with no solutions given?

Probably most people will acknowledge the importance of doing exercises when reading a mathematical textbook. Here I am talking about a textbook of similar level as those ones listed in GTM. However, ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Summer programs to gain research experience as an undergraduate, outside the United States?

There are many summer programs in the United States, targeted at good, motivated undergraduate students majoring in mathematics. Most programs, however (if not all), demand that the applicant is ...
14
votes
2answers
315 views

How to do math and help people

I am currently an junior math and statistics student at the University of Florida. For my whole life I have really enjoyed math and really do find a calling in mathematics. Math classes are the only ...
14
votes
1answer
309 views

Do lay persons really believe that all of mathematics is known?

I once found a professor of medicine to be under the impression that everything in mathematics is already known. It's probably commonplace to hear that the masses labor under that misconception. In ...
14
votes
0answers
3k views

Self-study Real analysis Tao or Rudin?

The reference requests for analysis books have become so numerous as to blot out any usefulness they could conceivably have had. So here come another one. Recently I've began to learn real analysis ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Path to Basics in Algebraic Geometry from HS Algebra and Calculus?

In this question, Why study Algebraic Geometry?, Javier Álvarez, develops a succint but encompassing description of algebraic geometry and its spread across different areas of mathematics. Indeed, it ...
13
votes
8answers
655 views

Elevator pitch for a (sub)field of maths?

When I first saw the title of this question, I forgot for a moment I was on meta, and thought it was asking about quick, catchy, attractive, informative one-or-two-liner summaries of various fields of ...