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Maths and You

Animekitty

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#1
OK so sometimes Maths is hard. And people do maths in different ways. People are good at some maths but not others. Some do it in their heads and others need formulas and calculators. I know how to add and subtract 3 digit numbers in my head and I know how to multiply and divide 2 digit numbers in my head. I have A-Phantasia so I do not see the numbers. Weird? how can I do them if I cannot see them? The paper I have says I scored 769 in maths (702 verbal) but I do not understand proofs or trigonometry or calculus. I am good at algebra though. I don't really know how I learned maths in school. We never read the book and just did paper handouts. I have trouble learning maths by myself since I am not in school anymore. You need to be good at maths for science and I don't know what to do. I get a mental block trying to read Wikipedia. I tried Khan Acadamy but they don't work for me, its not how my brain works. I wish I could learn more maths and science. I don't know.

What kind of maths are you good at?

Maths Is Too Hard
Chipflake channel
 

Hadoblado

think again losers
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#2
I can't do maths anymore. It's just gone.

In school maths tended to just be obvious to me. I didn't put in effort, I didn't study, I barely completed any course work. I dropped to middle course so that I didn't have to do as much, but still got the highest score in the year for the national maths competition. It didn't feel like it was worth my attention.

Now I struggle, hard. I feel entitled to understanding, but numbers work in ways I can't remember. It's not at all intuitive and I make constant mistakes on even simple things.

Every now and then I'll pick up khan academy and have a crack, it's a really good site, but I'm not engaged enough to really learn how to do things in the way I used to know them. I just guess, check, retry, and gradually improve without having an explicit understanding, then drop it for another half year or so.
 

Pyropyro

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#3
I find math fun. You get a formula, you plug in values and out comes your result. Sweet and simple. There's no risk of failing due to getting butter fingers like Analytical Chem and no chance for your cell culture to not cooperate like Microbio.

I think the problem with people is that they think math as an abstract entity for parlor tricks and passing grades rather than as something useful for analyzing stuff and planning. For example, I ran a rather simple survey for our church volunteers, did some stat stuff and advised the church leaders where their problems in the ministry were.

I might study Discrete mathematics and deeper stat next after finishing the Python book.
 
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#4
I wouldn't say I'm good at math, I tend to do poor with pretty much anything that requires attention for details. Too often I get the wrong answer because I wrote in the wrong number or misread something. I have never learned anything beyond a bit of calculus. I always enjoyed solving equations.

I'm actually planning on learning more math when I'm finished moving. I dug into my old storage stuff and found some books + you have the online resources obviously. So far all I've been doing is following established rules within mathematics, my long term goal is to learn the theories in more depth.
 

Serac

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#5
Math ain't easy.

I wish schools taught math the following way though: you get the axioms, and then try to arrive at various simple or less simple propositions. Euclid style. That way you actually learn how to think like a mathematician. Obviously, instead, you just get a shitload of pre-packaged results thrown at you which you are supposed to memorize and apply in various situations – which is not math. It's just memorization and plugging. I know that this system is mostly the work of bureaucrats though, it's not the teacher's fault. The bureaucrats say: "the kids should learn differentiation and integration". How the fuck do you learn that before having learned, say, infinite series? Well, you can't. The only "solution" is to teach the kids some formulas that mean shit to them, and tell them to plug in numbers into them. Boom.

edit: Sorry, this became more of a rant on bureaucrats than math and me. The subject that came the most naturally to me in school was probability. Since then, this subject has been the main theme of my studies and work.
 

Cognisant

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#6
You need to be good at maths for science and I don't know what to do.
What are you trying to do?

To answer your question I'm not really good at anything anymore, I just seem to bullshit my way through life while learning the bare minimum to get by, it seems like being able to learn quickly is more useful than actually knowing anything but the absolute basics.

"Hi I bought this thing and I threw away the manual without reading it, can you show me how it works?"
 

Polaris

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#7
I did fine with maths at school, just like any other subject. It was boring, but I scored 5/6 on pretty much anything but sport. I was told I "was a conscientious student who always performed well". Well, it couldn't have been further from the truth as I did not do any homework. It was just assumed that I must spend hours. The truth is I couldn't be bothered since I wasn't one of those uber-eager types who studied for many hours after school to get 6/6....I just didn't care...what was the point?

The result of getting good marks with no effort or encouragement was that I became ill-prepared for challenges, and would just give up at any sign of difficulty (while my older so-called genius brother was praised, encouraged and supported even though his marks were worse than mine...in those days, girls supposedly did not need encouragement because it did not matter if they were smart since they were to get married and have kids anyway, so I was ignored, for the most part).

In addition mum, as well as just about everyone else told me all through my upbringing that girls could not do math as well as boys, so I assumed I must just be a stupid girl and gave up. I badly wanted to study genetics, but gave up all hope after meeting some challenges in year 10. We also had a science and maths teacher who regularly stalked the girls and broke into our dorm room at school camp. I hated him, so I also started hating the subject.

So maths became a source of anxiety instead. Today, I will actually be as frank as to say it discouraged me from pursuing a career in science at a younger age, but at the time, it was difficult to find differing views in an isolated community where nobody was allowed to stand out, especially not girls.

I went through a gruelling but also rewarding process to get myself through first year maths at uni, due to serious self-confidence issues. Today, I enjoy statistics and calculus, but I don't think I'm particularly good at it. I just enjoy using maths to solve problems. My maths teacher at uni thought I had a talent, but I think she was probably mistaken.
 

Pizzabeak

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#8
I've always been average math, but I'd still do it - I don't mind getting instruction or discussing the concepts to make it make more sense and get experienced with it. That doesn't mean I'd always immediately get it and be super fast to grasp the material.

Then my high school experience sucked, because I only got to do freshman year then finished in home school or independent study, so I didn't have much lessons in the maths. You could almost say it was partially my fault for that though, when I got to community college I was thrust right into that level of science or schoolwork, luckily I was naturally curious and didn't rely wholly on the education system to learn. So I already knew the sciences but had to take classes for the credentials, and still had to take math. And if you were smart enough you could code algorithms.

So I still have to finish math. Haven't taken calculus yet, and I wasn't a math major. Overall, it isn't that hard. You just need time. Go to your professor's office hours. You have to make it your life or it won't work, in addition, not everyone is a savant or one of those people who don't need to study and still get A's. If you were fucked from the start you may still have a chance yet.
 

Animekitty

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#9
I wish I focused more on math when I was in High School.
I wish I was more self-aware. I had no idea what was going on.
I understand algorithms, I don't understand computer languages.
If I was self-aware I would have completed college.
I just sit here and do nothing all day.
I just speak of science in general.
I scored high on science tests.

In High School, I just did what the teachers told me to do.
The rest of the time I was doing my own stuff.
Just unaware of anything else.
 

Pyropyro

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#10
But you are aware right now AK. It's not too late to steer your life towards what you want to do.
 

Animekitty

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#11
I don't know what I want to do.
I've just been getting by for years.
I am trying to see if I can see a psychologist.
 

Hadoblado

think again losers
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#13
Math ain't easy.

I wish schools taught math the following way though: you get the axioms, and then try to arrive at various simple or less simple propositions. Euclid style. That way you actually learn how to think like a mathematician. Obviously, instead, you just get a shitload of pre-packaged results thrown at you which you are supposed to memorize and apply in various situations – which is not math. It's just memorization and plugging. I know that this system is mostly the work of bureaucrats though, it's not the teacher's fault. The bureaucrats say: "the kids should learn differentiation and integration". How the fuck do you learn that before having learned, say, infinite series? Well, you can't. The only "solution" is to teach the kids some formulas that mean shit to them, and tell them to plug in numbers into them. Boom.

edit: Sorry, this became more of a rant on bureaucrats than math and me. The subject that came the most naturally to me in school was probability. Since then, this subject has been the main theme of my studies and work.
I guess I wonder if it's worth teaching people to think like a mathematician?

I mean, it'd be great if everyone could, but most people aren't going to pursue math past high-school. If most people are just seeking a basic competence, should that not be the core of the subject, with more mathematiciany stuff being options you can later take?

I don't have strong feelings on this subject, it just seems like your perspective might be skewed in favour of what you'd want for yourself maybe?
 

Serac

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#14
Math ain't easy.

I wish schools taught math the following way though: you get the axioms, and then try to arrive at various simple or less simple propositions. Euclid style. That way you actually learn how to think like a mathematician. Obviously, instead, you just get a shitload of pre-packaged results thrown at you which you are supposed to memorize and apply in various situations – which is not math. It's just memorization and plugging. I know that this system is mostly the work of bureaucrats though, it's not the teacher's fault. The bureaucrats say: "the kids should learn differentiation and integration". How the fuck do you learn that before having learned, say, infinite series? Well, you can't. The only "solution" is to teach the kids some formulas that mean shit to them, and tell them to plug in numbers into them. Boom.

edit: Sorry, this became more of a rant on bureaucrats than math and me. The subject that came the most naturally to me in school was probability. Since then, this subject has been the main theme of my studies and work.
I guess I wonder if it's worth teaching people to think like a mathematician?

I mean, it'd be great if everyone could, but most people aren't going to pursue math past high-school. If most people are just seeking a basic competence, should that not be the core of the subject, with more mathematiciany stuff being options you can later take?

I don't have strong feelings on this subject, it just seems like your perspective might be skewed in favour of what you'd want for yourself maybe?
Well, what I want for myself I think is what is best for everyone. Learning how to plug in numbers into a forumla, or how to do arithmetic, or how to use basic statistical tools etc -- i.e. all the stuff which is mathematical but which non-mathematical people end up using -- is extremely simple when you know how math works. Thus if one thinks that people being able to use math is a good thing, they should actually teach math proper. The problem is that people end up leaving school with not a "basic competence" but no competence at whatsoever. In fact, contrary to what they were told, they never dealt with mathematics at all.
 

Animekitty

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#15
If I can see how the relationships work then I can process math to solve problems. I try to work it out in my head but I can't handle symbols I don't know what they mean. I need to see examples and read explanations on what is happening. That is what handouts did for me, the books confused me. The handouts were step by step. The books just expected you to know what was going on. There was no structure. Same as my computer language class. I was so confused. Spent my time editing Wikipedia instead.

Since there are no more handouts its been 12 years since I learned anything new in maths.
 

Serac

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#16
If I can see how the relationships work then I can process math to solve problems. I try to work it out in my head but I can't handle symbols I don't know what they mean. I need to see examples and read explanations on what is happening. That is what handouts did for me, the books confused me. The handouts were step by step. The books just expected you to know what was going on. There was no structure. Same as my computer language class. I was so confused. Spent my time editing Wikipedia instead.

Since there are no more handouts its been 12 years since I learned anything new in maths.
I have the same thing. I need to see examples and counterexamples, play around with simple cases etc, to make a concept stick.
 

The Grey Man

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#17
To teach people to think like a mathematician is merely to teach them to think properly. They call philosophers the professional thinkers, but this appellation is really better applied to the mathematicians and logicians. Only they deal completely in abstract concepts, in entities that are nothing but their relations with each other, elucidating yet more such relations and entities through strict logical inference. And this deductive reasoning is synonymous with sound judgment. A, if A then B; therefore B: so says the mathematician and everyone who has ever drawn a conclusion that was not a mere shuffling of words. Swindlers of the population can always be counted on to add an erroneous C to the syllogism where it suits their agenda. Maybe this is why the bureaucrats who obsequiously implement their schemes see fit to teach children a sundry collection of mathematical procedures instead of imparting upon them the necessity of thinking logically to determine not only how many apples Nancy can pick in two hours or whatever, but also whether one is not being misled. So it is that students learn to play certain tunes in harmony with everyone else, but it's a small miracle if one in a hundred leaves the school with any understanding of how to make proper music. It's the same in every discipline of learning.

To answer the OP question, I have not specialized in math, so I'm good at the same kinds of maths everyone else is who hasn't forgotten high school completely.
 

Ex-User (8886)

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#18
I find math boring, it's just some abstract concepts, physics is much more interesting, because you actually can see or imagine math.
 
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#19
As part of my formal education, I learned to become quite adept at manipulating formulas and evaluating them. Math comes very easily to me but then again I was trained in that fashion since a young age.

Back in the day I wanted to become a theoretical physicist so I completed the math textbook for 10th grade in a month. It was basically an intro to calculus - limits, derivatives, integrals, some simple differential equations and plane geometry.

Then I got lazy and ended up doing CS in university since it pretty much guarantees a job if you're good enough.

I used to not like math very much - it was just something I was expected to be good in. (STEM family) Then I got interested in theoretical physics and wanted to actually understand the math behind quantum mechanics and quantum field theory instead of relying on popularizations.

But that was a few years ago. I'd like to continue learning Math (starting with Algebraic Topology) but I don't really have the time nowadays.
 
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#20
To teach people to think like a mathematician is merely to teach them to think properly.
Precisely.

If I can see how the relationships work then I can process math to solve problems. I try to work it out in my head but I can't handle symbols I don't know what they mean. I need to see examples and read explanations on what is happening. That is what handouts did for me, the books confused me. The handouts were step by step. The books just expected you to know what was going on. There was no structure.
I know what you mean, I've observed this as rather normal. Your problem is not as much with math as it is with lack of understandable information about math.

I guess the ones who really understand math grow up and get well paid jobs. Teachers are picked from the rest. That is to say, you're on your own. It would be easy to say it's all someone else's fault, but we all have to go through this, this is just the reality of learning math on planet earth.

Handouts compile the most important information, leaving out as much of the fluff as possible, which is why everyone understands them. Such "refined information" is very valuable, but is only available on the beginner levels of math, because a teacher has to write those handouts, and that teacher needs to have a refined understanding of math first. Same problem as before.

Therefore, learning math relies heavily on your own skill of "information mining". Which is a skill of "extracting the essence out of a heap of bullshit". As a great counterexample: Wikipedia. It's a great reference, but it relies too heavily on foreknowledge of various concepts/symbols. Your information mining skill must be already extremely high to be able to extract the essence of the concept you are researching.

Information mining is like a game where you connect new concepts to the ones you already understood.

A1.png


New concepts are learned by finding/mining an explanation. A good example of such an explanation is the "handout", which illustrates a new concept by using concepts you are already familiar with. This converts an unknown concept into an understood one, a red into a blue one.

A2.png


But what if you find an explanation that uses concepts you are not yet familiar with? This is the situation you described. The books that are confusing.

A3.png


You need to execute a recursive algorithm like this: For every red-concept that you need to understand the first explanation, you have to find yet another explanation.

Hopefully, if you're lucky, the second explanation that you find is useful = an explanation that relies of blue concepts as in this image:

A4.png


If not, you might have to execute this algorithm recursively many many times. It all depends on how complicated the concept is that you are trying to understand. The higher the red dot is above your blue dots, the more steps you will need to reach it.

But finding/mining those explanations is still all up to you. Like any mining job, an arduous process. Some of this you probably already know, it's all part of the "learning how to learn" process.... maybe I just wanted to draw some pretty pictures :^^:
 
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#21
I suck at real-time computation, but give me a pen and paper and I'll shoot you the right answer. Concepts are more comfortable and stick to me, rather than solid numbers. I'm a visual learner so as long as I can project some formula or problem as an image in my head, I find problem-solving easy.
 
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