I have currently finished AS maths (British curriculum), but the problem with the British curriculum is that it misses out the basis of maths; it misses out a focus on functions. When I look at other curriculum, I feel like there is a huge gap in my understanding of maths because I'm not as good with functions. I'm now going off to Uni to study medicine, but I want to also learn maths in my spare time, so I want to start right from the beginning and go all the way to the top: to understanding complex proofs about complex topics and to also be able to write my own proofs. HOWEVER, my MAIN focus is to learn new topics in maths before I get good at proofs. I'm asking because when I come to learn chemistry in Uni, I will not really need maths as much, but I will indeed be a much better interpreter of the universe around me if I can understand studies which are done on a high mathematical basis.

So please, can anyone guide me towards some topics to start with? And give me a rough idea of the different types of things that I would learn? Also, please recommend BOOKS (can't learn without them :)). Please help me with this because I really do love maths and want to learn it; all of it. Thank you very much in advance :)

[Note: I couldn't find an appropriate tag, so I had to put the one below.]


closed as off-topic by Ian Miller, T. Bongers, Claude Leibovici, JonMark Perry, Pierre-Guy Plamondon Aug 11 '16 at 12:16

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Seeking personal advice. Questions about choosing a course, academic program, career path, etc. are off-topic. Such questions should be directed to those employed by the institution in question, or other qualified individuals who know your specific circumstances." – T. Bongers, Claude Leibovici, JonMark Perry, Pierre-Guy Plamondon
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried any math courses on Khan academy? (khanacademy.org) $\endgroup$ – naslundx Aug 11 '16 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ What kind of functions? The topic is enormous and there are a large quantity of them on even on small finite sets $\endgroup$ – Zelos Malum Aug 11 '16 at 7:46

First of all, I like your ambition and I hope you succeed in both endeavours.

One thing to address is that mathematics is a surprisingly large subject; Most mathematicians are actually just professional in one or two different areas of mathematics, and only sufficiently proficient in the rest, much like (specialist) physicians know enough about the human body but specializes in some specific area. That is, you cannot study mathematics from the bottom to the top; One usually deals with separate subjects from the bottom to the top.

You mention you want to understand functions and proofs, which to me sounds like you want to study analysis. The best introduction to rigorous analysis according to me is Abbott's Understanding analysis, which includes (naive) set theory and the construction of the real numbers, sequential and functional limits, integration and series, and some metric topology. This book to some extent requires some basic calculus, but I think it should be possible without it. It was also one of the first books that made me comfortable with rigorous proofs, and not just hand-waving with intuitive remarks. The book can be found online, and some chapters can be omitted.

I would also recommend reading a book on linear algebra, being that it is perhaps the most useful and well-understood areas of mathematics. For this I would recommend Linear Algebra Done Wrong by Treil, since it introduces everything in the way it should have been introduced in any introductory course in linear algebra. It includes vector spaces, linear combinations and bases, linear mappings, matrices, determinants, inner product spaces, singular value decomposition, spectral theory and some tensor analysis. This also requires some basic inuition linear algebra, but everything is explained in detail.

Both books require you to do the exercises, and I would assert that mathematics can only be learned doing the exercises. These two books will give you a solid foundation to build upon.

  • $\begingroup$ He did not say continuous or the like, a function in generallity would be set theoretical and proofs is in logic in general $\endgroup$ – Zelos Malum Aug 11 '16 at 7:44
  • $\begingroup$ Often when people without much experience in mathematics, when they talk about proofs and functions, I do not take it at face value as first-order logic and set theory (hence I emphasized naive set theory). Functions in this context usually mean of the type $e^x$ and alike, when it is obviously more general than that. $\endgroup$ – user305860 Aug 11 '16 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ While it is true it is most often those "trivial" functions they think of I think it is important to tell that functions are much to wide to be alone. One can afterward explain given the assumption of analysis being what they seek. $\endgroup$ – Zelos Malum Aug 11 '16 at 7:56
  • $\begingroup$ That is true, and interpreting the question itself is an exercise. However, many analysis textbooks do (and should) start with the set theoretic foundation for functions (as well as relations). This is of major importance in analysis, since a lot of the pathological examples, such as the Dirichlet function or Cantor function, were not really considered functions prior to Dirichlet. $\endgroup$ – user305860 Aug 11 '16 at 8:02

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.