Recently (although still in high school) I've been at university, more precisely at information science engineering as apprenticeship. I want to become an operating system programmer but I severely lack in math understanding and knowledge: for example I've 10/10 (in Italy we have this graduations) in IT, without any whatsoever problem for understanding and gain more new knowledge on the topic, whereas in math I've 2/10, which is severely insufficient.

I really struggle to understand all the theory (it seem too cryptic for me) and I can't mentally visualize and process math: I literally crash. Still I want to go to university, but since the first 2 years are 70% math, I'm afraid to not pass it and just waste time.

So, are there some good tutorials, books or whatever that illustrate math clearly and could help me out?

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    $\begingroup$ If your problems are that severe, and it looks they are, I think you better get yourself a teacher/instructor who can explain you stuff before you enter the university. It'd be a waste of time, effort and money to attend a career with so much mathematics without having a decent backgroun in high school maths. $\endgroup$ – Timbuc May 22 '15 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ You might also find the video tutorials of Khan Academy helpful $\endgroup$ – Simon S May 22 '15 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ This has been covered many different ways in other posts on this site, for example here, here, and here (have you looked at any of them?). Also, without further information, this is far too broad of a question. For example, what kind of math are you struggling with - arithmetic? algebra? calculus? $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles May 22 '15 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ Don't lose faith. Mathematics is A LOT about entering in the right mindframe for problem solving: this is an individual process that varies from person to person. This question is very interesting, although too broad. I believe that the community could help more if you addressed your problems with mathematics in a more precise way. $\endgroup$ – Lonidard May 22 '15 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ In your case, I think neither tutorials, books nor answers here can help you at this stage. The first thing you need to do is speak with someone who know math and has some math teaching experience. (e.g teacher, instructor or even friends in a math program who has tutored math before) The most important step is identify what is causing your problem on math. If you can get a $10/10$ on $IT$ but $2/10$ on math, the problem is not on your intelligence but most likely some very specific mind boggling block. If you can identify that block, there should be a way to deal with it... $\endgroup$ – achille hui May 22 '15 at 16:18

Well I'm not a programmer, but I'm pretty sure that you need math to program like the air you breathe.

Especially if you want to become very, very good at it; I mean if you want to understand algorithm running time, do analysis on the complexity of a specified algorithm or trying to find a new one who performs better, you really need to be confident in your math (not to a graduate level, but definitely above trigonometry stuff)

In short, those two years you must study math are the minimum required for a successful career.

I think the single most important thing you can do right now is to start liking math.

Okay, this sounds like a joke, but it really is possible; Now, presumably, you hate it, because you find it cryptic and difficult and weird and etc.

But math is logical, much like a computer program; if you like the latter, you probably like the former too, the only problem being that you have some sort of "repulsion" right now for math. Once you get past that, it shouldn't be too hard to start studying hard and understand everything in time for university.

So, instead of giving you a list of books to study math (your high school books are probably fine, after all) I'll advise you to start enjoying math.

One book I recall that was really fun is "Il mago dei numeri", as I remember I appreciated it when I read it.

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  • $\begingroup$ It may seem strange but analyzing, writing and optimizing algorithms it's close to natural for me, maybe because it doesn't require the same amount of abstraction that is required for resolving math. Still I don't hate math, just I've continuously failed in the past years, which didn't help with my esteem in math. $\endgroup$ – user242697 May 22 '15 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ @EnryFan I may be wrong then as I am not a programmer, but I think that if you are going to use, say, the master's theorem (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_theorem) you'll need at least some familiarity with math.. And anyhow you're trying to justify your way for not wanting to study math ("I don't need after all, I can program without math!") Well I find that highly unlikely. You may want to ask to on programmers.stackexchange.com the amount of math required to be a succesful programmer if you really want to. But don't be surprised if the answer is: "Lots!" $\endgroup$ – Ant May 22 '15 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ I know that programming needs math (otherwise the first two years wouldn't be basically math), however I've never actually used the big-O notation: just see executions times on various scenarios and then act on consequence. I think however my constant failures more as a bad re-enforcement (because each time I've studied and each time I've failed). $\endgroup$ – user242697 May 22 '15 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @EnryFan Ah, I see. Then you really need to talk to someone you know who knows math and can understand what your problems are. Or maybe you can start by posting a homework question on this site, your thoughts on the problem, what did you try, and try to learn from the answer people give :-) $\endgroup$ – Ant May 22 '15 at 16:27

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