Questions about the process of learning mathematics, both inside and outside a formal environment, including learning strategies, recommendations for learning particular subjects, and studying habits.

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279
votes
29answers
40k views

My sister absolutely refuses to learn math [closed]

My 13-year-old sister has a problem which, given the way math is currently taught, I doubt is anything but all too common. She has a low grade in her math course and only ever attempts to memorize ...
192
votes
7answers
10k views

Best Sets of Lecture Notes and Articles

Let me start by apologizing if there is another thread on math.se that subsumes this. I was updating my answer to the question here during which I made the claim that "I spend a lot of time sifting ...
183
votes
28answers
23k views

Too old to start math

I'm sorry if this question goes against the meta for posting questions - I attached all the "beware, this is a soft-question" tags I could. This is a question I've been asking myself now for some ...
94
votes
7answers
14k views

Tablet for reading textbooks and writing math by hand?

I am a math student. I'd like to find out if tablets (iPads, Galaxy Note 10.1) are worth the cost. How good are tablets for the purposes of reading textbooks as PDF and writing mathematics with a ...
79
votes
9answers
8k views

Math and mental fatigue

Just a soft-question that has been bugging me for a long time: How does one deal with mental fatigue when studying math? I am interested in Mathematics, but when studying say Galois Theory and ...
77
votes
23answers
22k views

Complete course of self-study

I am about $16$ years old and I have just started studying some college mathematics. I may never manage to get into a proper or good university (I do not trust fate) but I want to really study ...
77
votes
8answers
23k views

Learning mathematics as if an absolute beginner?

I dread mathematics, and I believe it's because I have come to associate mathematics with the experience of terrible teachers. All of my math teachers have been grumpy, but one in particular was the ...
71
votes
6answers
6k views

Strategies for Effective Self-Study

I have a long-term goal of acquiring graduate-level knowledge in Analysis, Algebra and Geometry/Topology. Once that is achieved, I am interested in applying this knowledge to both pure and applied ...
69
votes
6answers
11k views

Studying for the Putnam Exam

This is a question about studying for the Putnam examination (and, secondarily, other high-difficulty proof-based math competitions like the IMO). It is not about the history of the competition, the ...
66
votes
9answers
4k views

How to make notes when learning a new topic [closed]

At the moment I'm trying to teach myself Riemannian geometry by reading some books. I take notes by hand but I find that I forget it all and worse, either lose the sheets of paper or don't want to ...
66
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there a definitive guide to speaking mathematics?

Is there a definitive guide to speaking mathematics to avoid ambiguity? I'm writing a program to generate text for a variety of mathematical expressions and would like to code it so that it adheres ...
60
votes
11answers
5k views

How do people who study intensely abstract mathematics “imagine” or understand the concepts they are studying or being taught? [closed]

This question is probably to the actual people who study such mathematics, rather than any "third-party". I haven't studied any such mathematics, but I can imagine that some (probably most of it) of ...
55
votes
13answers
4k views

How to stop forgetting proofs - for a first course in Real Analysis?

I am taking my first course in analysis. I like the subject. I study it almost on a daily basis. I try to prove theorems on my own without even looking at the hints. If I really get stuck I just read ...
54
votes
8answers
8k views

When to learn category theory?

I'm a undergraduate who wishes to learn category theory but I only have basic knowledge of linear algebra and set theory, I've also had a short course on number theory which used some basic concepts ...
53
votes
8answers
10k views

Learning Lambda Calculus

What are some good online/free resources (tutorials, guides, exercises, and the like) for learning Lambda Calculus? Specifically, I am interested in the following areas: Untyped lambda calculus ...
53
votes
17answers
32k views

Good book for self study of a First Course in Real Analysis

Does anyone have a recommendation for a book to use for the self study of real analysis? Several years ago when I completed about half a semester of Real Analysis I, the instructor used "Introduction ...
51
votes
5answers
10k views

How Do You Go About Learning Mathematics?

I really like mathematics, but I am not good at learning it. I find it takes me a long time to absorb new material by reading on my own and I haven't found a formula that works for me. I am hoping a ...
51
votes
6answers
2k views

Am I too young to learn more advanced math and get a teacher?

I am still 15 years old, but I am very interested in pure math. I have been teaching myself though books, from the internet and from others for the past year or so. I haven't mastered all the topics ...
50
votes
19answers
4k views

Mathematical subjects you wish you learned earlier [closed]

I am learning geometric algebra, and it is incredible how much it helps me understand other branches of mathematics. I wish I had been exposed to it earlier. Additionally I feel the same way about ...
50
votes
9answers
3k views

Is memory unimportant in doing mathematics?

The title says it all. I often heard people say something like memory is unimportant in doing mathematics. However, when I tried to solve mathematical problems, I often used known theorems whose ...
49
votes
4answers
6k views

Do you prove all theorems whilst studying?

When you come across a new theorem, do you always try to prove it first before reading the proof within the text? I'm a CS undergrad with a bit of an interest in maths. I've not gone very far in my ...
47
votes
9answers
7k views

How to effectively study math?

Maybe this is too general for here, but I am having a lot of difficulty studying math. Just got out of the military and I guess I am not use to this yet but when I run into a problem I have trouble ...
43
votes
3answers
5k views

Motivation and methods for self-study

First, a little background: Beginning with calculus in my first semester of college, I fell in love with mathematics. That was the point at which the concepts became interesting to me, and I started ...
41
votes
2answers
745 views

Effective Research Notes

Note-taking for research is vital to your success as a mathematician. As I look back at some of my handwritten notes, I realized how poor they were. I had thought to myself, "What happened?" I was ...
40
votes
7answers
10k views

I can't do math?

So after failing another math test today I have realized that I can't do math on my own. For whatever reason when I get to a test I just can't do math without extra resources. I think this is because ...
40
votes
5answers
9k views

(Theoretical) Multivariable Calculus Textbooks [duplicate]

(Note that I have used bold text frequently simply to highlight the key points of my question for those who do not have the time to read through it thoroughly (it is not very long, however); I hope ...
39
votes
5answers
2k views

Self-learning mathematics - help needed!

First, I apologise for the nebulous nature of my title but I can't adequately explain myself concisely. I am about to start an MSc in pure maths after a fairly shaky undergraduate degree. I am very ...
38
votes
13answers
4k views

Is there a good “bridge” between high school math and the more advanced topics?

I love math and would like to know more of it. However, whenever I try to pick up a book on what I consider to be "advanced" mathematical topics, I often have a hard time understanding some of the ...
37
votes
6answers
4k views

Are the exercises necessary to understand the subject of a mathematical textbook?

When I am reading a mathematical textbook, I tend to skip most of the exercises. Generally I don't like exercises, particularly artificial ones. Instead, I concentrate on understanding proofs of ...
36
votes
5answers
2k views

Book/tutorial recommendations: acquiring math-oriented reading proficiency in German

I'm interested in others' suggestions/recommendations for resources to help me acquire reading proficiency (of current math literature, as well as classic math texts) in German. I realize that ...
36
votes
2answers
797 views

How do I find partners for study?

I want to find partners to study some post-graduate topics together online (because I'm pretty much out of steam as far as self-study goes, and I have problems finding a decent grad school). Are there ...
35
votes
6answers
30k views

Good books for self-studying algebra?

I have a few weeks off from school soon, and I was hoping to self-study a bit of algebra. I don't think this question has been asked on here before, but does anyone have any suggestions for algebra ...
34
votes
6answers
1k views

Attitude towards exercises in mathematics

I'm doing self study on a couple of topics in mathematics, such as real analysis, abstract algebra, and linear algebra. From time to time, there are always a couple of exercises which I found too ...
31
votes
8answers
5k views

How can I learn to “read maths” at a University level?

When I look at math, it's like my mind goes fuzzy. The only way to describe it is in terms of what I can relate it to. You know how when you read, you see the letters and words, but your brain picks ...
29
votes
13answers
12k views

Formerly good at math, but after 12 years I've lost most of my skills. Now I need them once again. Any advice to grow them back?

I love math, and I used to be very good at it. The correct answers came fast and intuitively. I never studied, and redid the demonstration live for the tests (sometimes inventing new ones). I was the ...
29
votes
3answers
4k views

Math Major: How to read textbooks in better style or method ? And how to select best books?

I'm a bachelor student of Math major. The question is about the better way to select and read maths text- or non-text- books, without considering the course and exam. (Because we follow the lecture ...
28
votes
3answers
808 views

Do free online collaborative solution manuals exist?

I'm not a mathematician by training and a rarely come in contact with mathematicians. For this reason I find solution manuals to be incredibly useful - reading them allows me to see how experienced ...
27
votes
8answers
4k views

Math every mathematician should know [closed]

This question is meant as a companion to previously asked questions like Proofs every mathematician should know. More and more I'm beginning to see that there is just too much math to learn. ...
26
votes
11answers
24k views

How to start with mathematics? [closed]

I fell in love with mathematics a bit too late when I've already taken decisions regarding my future, career-wise. Now I would like to learn math on my own but I'm a bit confused as where to start. My ...
26
votes
3answers
993 views

When to skip sections of a book when self-studying?

When you're taking a mathematics class, you usually know exactly what sections of a book you need to know, and you can focus your time on these important sections. However, when studying by myself, ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

Efficient ways to read and learn a new topic [closed]

I started reading the book "Topology without tears" by Sidney A Morris and lecture notes on "Elementary Number Theory" by WWL.Chen. To get the maximum out of the book and understand the material ...
23
votes
7answers
6k views

How to study for analysis?

I am currently a first year undergraduate majoring in mathematics. I'm taking an introductory analysis course and find it very hard compared to other math couses. I know that the topics covered in the ...
23
votes
8answers
1k views

Looking to attain fluency in mathematics, not academic mastery

I'm a business/international relations person and a lot of my job is flying around. I have had a lot of downtime recently, and couldn't find a sustainable hobby to fill in that time. Until I found ...
23
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the dangers of visual exposition of mathematics?

I've heard several times (such as this one) that it's dangerous to learn/prove/teach mathematics through images. I've also read somewhere that showing mathematics through images helps one's intuition ...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

How to think deeply in mathematics way? [closed]

Most of the time, I solve a problem by doing the following steps: 1. Look for a related theorem. 2. Look for a related formula. 3. Find a similar problem or sub-problem. 4. Try to adapt the one that I ...
21
votes
7answers
2k views

Teaching mathematics in intuitive and thought provoking way

I'm a private tutor of High school & pre-engineering level mathematics. Obviously, only those people who have some trouble with maths take tuitions. Most of my students are actually good. I mean ...
20
votes
4answers
1k views

Perspectives on Riemann Surfaces

So, I have come to a somewhat impasse concerning my class selection for next term, and I have exhausted all the 'biased' sources. So, I was wondering if anyone in this fantastic mathematical community ...
20
votes
2answers
350 views

How can a beginner researcher or Ph.D. student efficiently and effectively learn new concepts while staying motivated?

I hope this question is appropriate for MSE. The situation is that someone is reading a book (e.g. a monograph), possibly helpful in his/her research, and the content is sufficiently extensive or ...
20
votes
1answer
370 views

Learning Aid for Basic Theorems of Topological Vector Spaces in Functional Analysis

I am self-teaching myself the basics of functional analysis (e.g. topological vector spaces), and frankly I am starting to get a migraine sorting out/organizing in my head all of the ...
19
votes
5answers
4k views

What's better strategy to handle tons of formulas, definitions?

I'm freshman, bachelor of Math major. When I read and learn the textbook, there're lots of formulas, laws, definitions and so forth. But what is the better way to handle it ? I mean, is it necessary ...