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As someone finishing up their BSc in Electrical Engineering, it is becoming very clear that I need to improve my mathematically abilities significantly if I want to pursue any more education.

I always considered myself to be at least decent at mathematics. In High School, I took the Calculus BC exam and got a 5 on it very easily. It just feels like I got lost somewhere along the way in College. I will admit when I took Calculus II or III, I was not the best student but managed to do okay in those courses. However, now I am taking a higher level math course (Stochastic Processes) and a graduate level EE course (Optimal Systems). The latter focuses on a lot of concepts from Real Analysis to motivate the discussion of optimization.

I don't think I have ever struggled so much in any course ever. It's difficult for me to see solutions, and sometimes I do not even understand the solutions after seeing them. It's especially demoralizing for me to see other people in my class see solutions almost instantly. At this point, I don't know if I am just bad at math or my weak fundamentals are holding me back or a combination of both. I guess the broader question is how would I get better at math? I have been reading How to Solver it by Polya but I find it hard to actually apply the ideas I am reading about.

Any suggestions or ideas would be helpful. Thanks!

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  • $\begingroup$ It really is just practice, like anything else. If you spend enough time, you will get it. I think everyone (except maybe incredible geniuses) feels this way at some point. $\endgroup$ – Euler....IS_ALIVE Feb 25 '14 at 4:23
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    $\begingroup$ Real analysis is a lot of work with no short cuts. $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Feb 25 '14 at 4:25
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure at this point if my fundamentals are holding me back from becoming a better problem solver or I am not smart enough to understand higher level math. $\endgroup$ – user130912 Feb 25 '14 at 4:42
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I recommend getting several Schaum's Outline Series books that are related to the subjects you want to work on, such as the following:

Probability, Random Variables, and Random Processes

Theory and Problems of Real Variables; Lebesgue Measure and Integration With Applications to Fourier Series

Advanced Mathematics for Engineers and Scientists

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Above all else, keep working hard and stay positive. Believe that you are capable, because chances are, you are. I am pursuing a Statistics Grad degree and my undergraduate is in Sociology. One thing that I found that has helped me is using a ti-89 calculator. I know some will shun me for suggesting this, but it is a helpful tool. The reality is that you are not being tested on your ability to foil or integrate (mastering those skills without a calculator is always helpful however). Ultimately understanding the processes and there applications is the goal. Good luck!

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  • $\begingroup$ Given what the original poster said (taking Stochastic Processes, not understanding solutions even after seeing them), I don't think a lack of algebraic manipulation skills or a lack of explicit indefinite integration skills play much of a role in his/her difficulties. $\endgroup$ – Dave L. Renfro Feb 25 '14 at 17:30

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