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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278
votes
29answers
39k 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 ...
176
votes
28answers
20k 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 ...
168
votes
6answers
8k 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 ...
91
votes
7answers
13k 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 ...
77
votes
8answers
21k 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 ...
74
votes
9answers
6k 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 ...
66
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
63
votes
6answers
9k 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 ...
61
votes
9answers
3k 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 ...
57
votes
11answers
4k 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 ...
52
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 ...
48
votes
8answers
8k 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 ...
47
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 ...
47
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 ...
46
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
45
votes
9answers
6k 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 ...
40
votes
2answers
689 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 ...
38
votes
7answers
9k 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 ...
37
votes
13answers
3k 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 ...
36
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 ...
34
votes
10answers
2k views

How do mathematicians find formulas? [on hold]

How do mathematicians find formulas? For instance, the area of a triangle is $$\mathrm{area}=\frac{\mathrm{base}\times \mathrm{height}}{2}.\tag{1}$$ When I study maths, the book I am using tells ...
34
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
29
votes
13answers
11k 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 ...
28
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. ...
28
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 ...
27
votes
3answers
763 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 ...
25
votes
11answers
20k 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 ...
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 ...
23
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 ...
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
307 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
19
votes
1answer
357 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 ...
18
votes
7answers
5k 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
7k views

How to Improve Mathematical Thinking and General Problem Solving Skills?

I'm a sophomore in university and seriously feel that I'm bad at solving mathematical and algorithmic problems (be it discrete math, calculus or just puzzles). I noticed that I'm only good at solving ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Can an older person become an expert in math?

Is learning math like learning a language, in that there's a certain cutoff age (pretty young) that you need to start learning by, otherwise you'll never be fluent? Is the novice older brain ...
17
votes
4answers
1k 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
5answers
794 views

Understanding mathematical texts

Please could you comment on following: I always wanted to know what mathematicians mean by "understanding a piece of mathematics". For example, I have just finished the second chapter from Rudin's ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

How to get more creative in Calculus

I'm currently doing Calculus I (one variable and some max- min problems with two variables as well), and I can follow most proofs and understand most of all chapters in the book. It seems tough that ...
15
votes
3answers
441 views

Why don't i understand “what is mathematics?” by Richard Courant

I am 14 years old and can do A level maths happily. However, I want to further my knowledge of mathematics to pave my way for more discrete maths and harder analysis etc. so I decided to pickup "What ...
14
votes
2answers
191 views

Strategies to study apart from “books cover to cover.”

I have never really liked reading a book from cover to cover (because I usually get bored). Most of what I've learned so far has been picked up from forums like this one, or occasional reading from ...
14
votes
2answers
755 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
0answers
352 views

IMO programs of different nations?

We in Albania have a good team in the IMO, and this year I will probably be part of it. Since Albania does not have a public training programme, I have to consult the training programmes of other ...
13
votes
13answers
4k views

How to explain the formula for the sum of a geometric series without calculus?

How to explain to a middle-school student the notion of a geometric series without any calculus (i.e. limits)? For example I want to convince my student that $$1 + \frac{1}{4} + \frac{1}{4^2} + ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the prerequisites for learning category theory?

Is category theory worth learning for the sake of learning it? Can it be used in applied mathematics/probability? I am currently perusing Categories for the Working Mathematician by Mac Lane.
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Which is better strategy to learn and read books, traditionally one by one OR re-read carefully on perfect books

(Just focus on how to learn and master the stuff pretty well, not involve the aspect of courses or exam) Because recently I always feel that the time and energy are pretty limited, I want to try ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Best way to learn Algebraic Geometry?

I've been reading the book Commutative Algebra with a view towards Algebraic Geometry. I was wondering is the best way to learn algebraic geometry through commutative algebra? As the book I'm ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

When to give up on math? [closed]

How do I know when I should give up on math? I can't pass any of my math tests no matter much I study, I have tutors, attend office hours and I still can't do better than a D on any test. Most of the ...