I want to learn math on my own at home. What is the best method to do so? I would say that I pick things up/grasp concepts pretty fast.

I took math until grade 10 in highschool/secondary school and I forgot some things but can remember by quickly reviewing those areas. I want to learn all the math subjects like trigonometry(have some basic knowledge), functions, calculus, vectors etc.

What texts will I need or what online content is there that will pretty much help me from the beginning? Are there any supplies and materials I should have? My brother has a graphing calculator that can be used, any thing else?

Approximately how long do you think it will take for me to learn all of this if I put in at least 3-5 hours a day of study including weekends?

Also, are there any software engineers/programmers out there who are willing to tell me which secondary school math courses are needed for that field of study/ or what they needed when they were getting into a university or college?

Thank you.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to MSE! There are several postings that deal with this and I will dig some up as they have wonderful recommendations! In fact, look at the links on the bottom right pane of this web page for those! Regards $\endgroup$ – Amzoti Apr 6 '13 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I will take a look. $\endgroup$ – LinuxLenovo Apr 6 '13 at 2:02

I recommend getting a start with Khan Academy. It's quite good.

  • $\begingroup$ Here's the link to the Khan Academy $\endgroup$ – Namaste Apr 6 '13 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that they have changed their website layout from the last time I went on that site. It's very easy to navigate now. They also offer a basic computer programming course, which will help me immensely. Thank you for inspiring me to go back and check out their site. $\endgroup$ – LinuxLenovo Apr 6 '13 at 2:01

For the last question: If you have a particular university/college in mind, contact them to find out whether there are particular mathematical prerequisites that they require to let you enroll in their software engineering or computer science programs. Such requirements vary wildly between institutions.

Beyond formal requirements, the situation is a bit funny. Most of the concrete topics found in an ordinary high school math curriculum is unlikely to have much direct relevance for software development in general. Some ordinary algebra is always good to know, and at some point you'll probably need a passing familiarity with what a logarithm is, but that's not in itself very filling. (For specific fields there are of course further mathematical knowledge that can be handy -- for example, as much vector algebra as you can find if you aim to end up doing graphics).

Nonetheless there's a clear trend that how much secondary-level mathematical education a student has is a quite good predictor of how successful they will be in the software field. Which mathematics that is matters less -- it's more that the same abstract skills are relevant for learning mathematics and for developing software; skills such as being good at handling abstraction, of breaking a problem down into subproblems, to focus on a subproblem without lose track of where it fits into the greater whole, and to do this for multiple nested layers of subproblems, etc. This is often summarized under the heading "mathematical maturity".

It is somewhat debatable whether learning mathematics actively develops these skills or whether it is just that students who already have talent for them naturally gravitate towards learning a lot of math.

There are also less abstract components of "mathematical maturity", such as being comfortable with manipulating symbolic expressions and so forth, which can be a concrete benefit from leaning some mathematics. Again, however, which mathematics one learns is less important here.

What this adds up to is that you probably have the luxury that just following your interests may be as good as any other direction of mathematical study you could take at this point -- unless there are formal requirements to satisfy or you want to target a specific math-intensive area such as computer graphics.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the response! That was very informative. $\endgroup$ – LinuxLenovo Apr 6 '13 at 1:55

It's also pretty awesome if you looked into online courses if you like learning online.

If you like competition math, I suggest taking Art of Problem Solving courses at artofproblemsolving.com

Or if you like free online courses in general, I suggest looking into MIT Open Courseware at http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/find-by-topic/ or math courses at coursera.org

If you want to learn math by yourself, I would suggest buying math books and working your way through them. If you have any questions, you should post them here. It shouldn't hurt.


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