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When a mathematician like Terence Tao says "I'm not good in Algebra" what does he actually mean?

Does that imply he's actually good at undergraduate level Algebra and perhaps even at masters level, but he "thinks" he would struggle (much more than others) with any real research in the field?

Or do they mean something completely different?


I'm really just curious about how good/bad these guys are in fields outside of their research area - which would indeed help explore a more fundamental question, which is perhaps too vague for the purpose of this website.

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closed as off-topic by Saad, J. M. is a poor mathematician, JonMark Perry, Professor Vector, TheSimpliFire Feb 28 '18 at 7:05

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

  • "This question is not about mathematics, within the scope defined in the help center." – Saad, Professor Vector, TheSimpliFire
  • "This question is missing context or other details: Please improve the question by providing additional context, which ideally includes your thoughts on the problem and any attempts you have made to solve it. This information helps others identify where you have difficulties and helps them write answers appropriate to your experience level." – J. M. is a poor mathematician, JonMark Perry
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ This may be relevant. $\endgroup$ – Xander Henderson Feb 28 '18 at 3:48
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    $\begingroup$ You might want to interpret Tao's statement as something akin to a baseball slugger saying he is bad at pitching. Most ball players pitch in college/high school and would smoke the average person. $\endgroup$ – abnry Feb 28 '18 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ @abnry I see, that would make sense, yes. $\endgroup$ – Stephen Feb 28 '18 at 3:53