# Best Way To Teach Oneself Math?

#### kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the making-up-for-lost-time dept.

609
An anonymous reader writes *"In high school I failed two out of three years of math classes and eventually dropped out of school completely. I earned my general equivalency diploma as soon as was legally possible and from there went on to college and beyond. That was many years ago and my most basic algebra, trigonometry, and geometry skills are slipping away at an alarming rate. I'm looking for a self-guided course covering the equivalent of 4 years of high school mathematics including calculus. My math skills are holding me back. How can I turn this around?"*

## 3 ideas (5, Informative)

## stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978035)

Another option, if it fits into a persons schedule, would be to take classes through a community college. Costs are lower, classes are generally smaller than a university and schedules are often flexible for working adults.

Another thought I had is home schooling materials. I've never personally been involved in homeschooling, but as I understand it these kids can earn a highschool diploma at home. So why couldn't someone put themselves through such a program just to learn the information? I'm sure there are lots of resources out there for this, a quick google turned up this one. [homeschoolmath.net]

## Re:3 ideas (4, Informative)

## stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978055)

## Re:3 ideas (3, Informative)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978271)

## Re:should have included (4, Informative)

## rhendershot (46429) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978447)

## Re:3 ideas (2, Informative)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978139)

Go to the course catalog and figure out undergrad level classes in the area you want to improve / learn. They are really cool. You will see all the lecture notes, exercises and reading material. If you are really serious about learning, I would highly recommend buying course textbook and following the course schedule strictly. I did this in couple of areas like business strategy and game theory and it really helped me in acquiring the relevant skills in these areas.

All the Best!

## Re:3 ideas (5, Insightful)

## Guido del Confuso (80037) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978165)

I think it's only too easy to just pick up a math book and tell yourself you're going to do the work, only to get frustrated and abandon it a few weeks later. By having an actual class that you have to make time to attend, you're making more of a commitment and are more likely to stay with it.

## Re:3 ideas (5, Insightful)

## iron-kurton (891451) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978313)

## Re:3 ideas (1)

## Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978181)

Calculus is tougher, and the community college might be the best bet.

## Re:3 ideas (1)

## Elros (735454) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978183)

It's designed with plenty of repetition over the course rather than drill one topic for a week and never see it again. It's by far the best math text book style I've ever seen.

------------

Adam Lininger

University of Missouri - Rolla

## Re:3 ideas (5, Insightful)

## Anthony (4077) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978205)

I concur, Good study guides and good courses will put you on the right track.

No matter what you do, realise the Mathematics is not a spectator sport. I continuously fall into the trap of reading about Mathematics than

doingMathematics. Do the exercises and do some more. One thing I did do which was invaluable was a bridging course that reviewed much of final year high school Mathematics with plenty of exercises and a great teacher. Recognise your wakness and go back and make sure you understand whatever is being assumed at the level you are having diffculty with and again, do those exercises. For example, if you are having trouble with trigonometry, review the ways of deducing angles for triangles and bisected parallel lines. Review Pythagoras's Theorem, fundamental algebra, etc.## Saxon math (1)

## g4sy (694060) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978479)

As someone who was homeschooled for a while and actually have better maths skills as a result, I can personally recommend Saxon Math [harcourtachieve.com] as being a great curriculum. Not only are they the best math coursebooks around, but they are also written with adults in mind. The amount of forsight and diligence that these authors have put into the materials make them great for children and adults.

Disclaimer: I'm not related in any way to the publishers other than the fact that for a period on my life my mother would hand me one of their books every year.

## Re:3 ideas (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978507)

Supposedly an MIT math frat bought out the entire stock at the Borders store in Cambridge, Mass. because they were worried about the brothers losing their "edge" in freshman math to the great unwashed.

## Study ... (3, Funny)

## Pope Benedict XVI (881674) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978045)

## Re:Study ... (0, Offtopic)

## AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978057)

## Re:Study ... (3, Insightful)

## zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978493)

sof magnitude more digits than would be polite to include in a slashdot post.## Re:Study ... (1, Funny)

## TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978063)

Then stay the bloody hell away from my circles Mr Pi=3 thicky.

## Re:Study ... (4, Funny)

## corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978137)

## Re:Study ... (1)

## creimer (824291) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978243)

## GED == Avoidig Niggers (-1, Troll)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978059)

It's like you want to ignore them but they keep carrying on.

Makes you long for the days Jim Crowe. Should have left well enough alone.

## Re:GED == Avoidig Niggers (-1, Flamebait)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978119)

## Re:GED... (0)

## Lord Kano (13027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978223)

Time to get over it or you'll never find another one.

LK

## Re:GED... (-1, Troll)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978307)

## College Bookstore (3, Interesting)

## Conception (212279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978067)

## Re:College Bookstore (1)

## HGG (176028) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978227)

http://www.seanet.com/~hgg9140/math/index.html [seanet.com]

## Re:College Bookstore (2, Informative)

## Gertlex (722812) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978383)

An alternative would be review guides such as those for AP tests. Those are far cheaper, though they may or may not explain the concepts. If it's review you seek, then a college textbook is overkill.

## Re:College Bookstore (4, Interesting)

## TheCouchPotatoFamine (628797) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978525)

Seems like every math class in america should have a playstation 2 with "Calculus: The Beginning" stuck in it. Cheaper then the calculators and computers per student and the student can play it at home if they want. What's not to like?

In the larger case though, i would just like to have such a thing as an entertainment option to, like the submitter said, keep a sharp edge on the skills.

## What worked for me is... (1)

## protobion (870000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978069)

## Re:What worked for me is... (1)

## regularstranger (1074000) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978353)

## Practice (5, Insightful)

## Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978075)

Derive newton's method.

Find the formula for the circle that passes through any three arbitrary points

Derive all the trigonometric identity functions

## Re:Practice (2, Insightful)

## Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978193)

## Re:Practice (1)

## UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978247)

## well (4, Insightful)

## gadzook33 (740455) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978081)

## Re:backwards (1, Interesting)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978367)

That's how I taught myself math as a kid. Start with the last chapter. If you don't know it, go back a chapter. Once you've seen the later chapters, you'll know how the earlier stuff applies, so you'll learn it much, much faster.

## Re:well (5, Interesting)

## pz (113803) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978401)

I don't think they do a great job of teaching it in school where they take a very linear approach.I'm not currently a professional teacher, but I have been one, at a Big Technical University that you have heard of, for four years. My skin crawls when I hear people demeaning a linear pedagogic approach because, frankly, and you can take this as an expert opinion by someone who has won awards for teaching, there is no better way. Period. People learn depth-first by cycling down from coarser details to finer ones. They learn in steps. To quote Prof. Patrick Winston of AI fame, you only learn that which you almost already know. Trying to teach in fuzzy alternate ways, teaching by trickery, emphasizing word problems or case study, teaching two or three paths at the same time, all of that stuff does not work for technical and mathematical subjects, pure and simple.

For the basic mathematics that the original post is inquiring about, the concepts are reasonably simple and straightforward. What they require, however, is what often appears to be mind-numbing repetition. It's work. While I applaud this fellow's current initiative, the effort should have been put in when he was a teenager because it's a lot easier then. It sounds like he's understood the mistake and is currently, as an adult, trying to correct that, which is definitely commendable. Unless he's the sort of person who developed phenomenal self-discipline later in life, however, the best bet is to get to a classroom. There are any of a large number of adult education services in every city I've been to. Often local high schools will have evening adult-ed classes as well. Or, as another poster suggested, the local community college can be a good resource. But basic mathematics requires a lot of rote work. It can be a joy to know that you've learned everything that was used to get mankind to the moon, a tremendous joy in fact, but it takes work.

## Re:well (2, Interesting)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978505)

## Re:well (1)

## gadzook33 (740455) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978523)

## Re:well (1)

## interiot (50685) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978417)

## Re:well (1)

## yourfnmom (733312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978503)

## ocw.mit.edu (4, Informative)

## scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978083)

## Re:ocw.mit.edu (1)

## AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978109)

## Re:ocw.mit.edu (1)

## solszew (130449) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978169)

## Re:ocw.mit.edu (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978229)

## Re:ocw.mit.edu (1)

## AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978267)

## Re:ocw.mit.edu (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978275)

## Re:ocw.mit.edu (1)

## dolphino (166844) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978345)

## Re:ocw.mit.edu (1)

## Genevish (93570) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978481)

## Re:ocw.mit.edu (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978269)

Basic Mathematicsand Melvin Hausner'sA Vector Space Approach to Geometry. Any holes he has he can fill in with SOSMath. For starting proofs he can work through Zarkon'sBasic Concepts of Mathematics(free, online), while preparing for the rigorous study of linear algebra or real analysis. That is if he chooses to continue from there.Or he can just buy a used Prentice Hall pre-calculus book.

## ap curriculum (1)

## xargon (1173829) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978091)

## holding you back from what? (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978103)

## Re:holding you back from what? (1)

## LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978191)

## Re:holding you back from what? (1)

## thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978257)

I would suggest the way to go about it is go back to school. You could find an adult entry high school, or take a university bridging course for something like a science or engineering degree. There's plenty of highschool level mathematics in those courses and they're designed for people in the same situation as you.

You'll have trouble teaching yourself if you are like most of the rest of us. It's not that you're not capable, but because at the first hurdle it will seem insurmountable without a tutor or guidance to show you that you can climb it in small steps. If you do want do teach yourself from books, consider enlisting the services of a tutor on occasion to make sure you're really learning the right things and to keep you honest.

## Re:holding you back from what? (1)

## Glove d'OJ (227281) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978301)

Once you learn how to get a best fit line, do percents, fractions, basic geometry, understand the concept of functions and how to plot them, and learn how to do basic derivation (polynomials only!) then you are way ahead of the game.

I also have a math degree, and have never had anyone run up to me saying "quick -- we need this integral solved over this region before the big meeting!" Unless you are in a rather technical job, I feel that learning Excel can do more for you than 2 years of math classes.

Most of math for me has been learning how to learn. If you can wrap your head around a lot of the more esoteric structures in higher maths, then most anything else work can throw at you becomes really straightforward. Of course, my head is wired that way, and math comes easy for me. (ymmv)

It may be hard for someone like the anonymous coward above to understand, but I can definitely see how a lack of math skills can be holding someone back. Not being able to add fractions or screwing up percentages (percent change is based upon the starting amount, so use it in the bottom of the fraction, etc.) can really make you look bad, especially if your boss caught it before you did.

## Brain training (1)

## Tempest7 (457864) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978111)

http://brainage.com/ [brainage.com]

## Don't bother, it's not useful for anything. (-1, Troll)

## Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978113)

Bottom line: If you can't do it without the help of Texas Instruments, it's not worth doing.

## Re:Don't bother, it's not useful for anything. (0, Redundant)

## Mahjub Sa'aden (1100387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978163)

## Nothing fancy. (5, Insightful)

## EinZweiDrei (955497) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978121)

Set aside 30 minutes a night.

Work the problems out with pen and paper.

Where necessary, remember formulas however best suits you.

Avoid technological fixes.

## Re:Nothing fancy. (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978433)

## Developmental Math (1)

## srwood (99488) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978129)

## Work through some high school exercise books (1)

## Heir Of The Mess (939658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978133)

In some ways mathematics is a frame of mind you need to train your mind to think mathematically.

In Australia the last 3 years of high school are years 10,11 and 12. Pick up the equivalent of a year 10 maths/exercise book. There will bechapters explaining some stuff and then it will have lots of exercises to exercise your mind. Answers will be in the back.

At year 11 and 12 level you are looking at what we call "Mathematics II". The yr 10 book will have given you the basics of differentials and Integrals, the 11 and 12 stuff will then go into how you can use them.

After that you need to pick what field you are looking at. Control systems, bridge design, chemical reactions, and pick up the book that covers the mathematics for that. This will be fairly advanced stuff normally taught at university level. I did Engineering which uses calculus quite heavily.

So basically, RTFM.

## Calculus, 3rd Edition (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978141)

Lock yourself in a library and do every exercise. Make sure you have access to a university prof to help you when you get stumped, especially with the first few chapters while you're still getting the hang of doing proofs.

If you don't like Spivak's style, Walter Rudin's Principles of Mathematical Analysis is quite nice.

Note you can get your arithmetic rules from Spivak's book, so you don't have to relearn those first; you just have to read very carefully.

## In the rest of the world (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978149)

## Get a Pre-calculus textbook (1)

## rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978157)

There are no two ways around it. You can learn or pretend you learned the material, but if you never have to apply it (doing problems) you'll never know. Community College courses like some suggested I offer hesitantly - I never liked classes as I have to keep to their schedule - in going there, etcetera. I learn faster than their pace, but some don't. Also a different perspective (that of the teacher and fellow students) may help you and a teacher may guide you to the correct higher maths you need for your job/career.

I would suggest doing the odd or even half of the problems in your notebook and keep trudging on. If you think you know a section, there is no need to be anal about it and write down the problems, but do them mentally and check if you have the correct answers. At least that is how I did it. I actually like math now that I'm not tethered to a boring class and for it's own sake.

Also, fundamentals are most important. If you don't know your pre-calc, you aren't going to do well with calculus. Get your calc book after you went through your pre-calc. Don't trust people who offer easy solutions - study after study has shown you get in what you get out. Even if you learn fast (or think you learn fast), you can forget fast without ever applying what you learned.

If you do consider a community college, check out the reputation of the professors you are selecting at ratemyprofessors.com, there is no need to stumble upon a nightmare teacher. Adult students have enough things to worry about without adding another obstacle to their path.

## Community college (4, Informative)

## PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978159)

## Repetition of simple problems (3, Interesting)

## willy_me (212994) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978187)

The thing is, when you're learning math you want to focus your efforts on the subject at hand - not the other simple math that accompanies it. For example, when a prof is going over a question on the board you don't want to waste time with the simple stuff. It takes away from what you should really be learning.

So I guess my suggestion is this - make sure you know the basic stuff really well. You will always have to use it and without it you will always be at a disadvantage.

Willy

## Math is just a foundation (1, Troll)

## dagamer34 (1012833) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978203)

## Re:Math is just a foundation (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978357)

## Math skills... (4, Informative)

## Glove d'OJ (227281) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978219)

Any sort of advanced math is very easy in which to develop bad habits. Advanced math "build", unlike other subjects in those same grades. If you didn't "get"

Death of a Salesman,you still have a shot at understandingMoby Dick.However, if you did not "get" fractions or percentages, then you really can't go a lot further.If your math skills (or, rather, lack thereof) are holding you back, think of the tutor as an investment.

On a side note, you would be surprised at the proof of "bad math skills" that can be seen in the corporate world. People rarely / never stop to do a reality check. "Can it be that 105% of the people required to take the training have taken it?" Ugh.

## Re:Math skills... (1)

## 42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978355)

## Isaac Asimov (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978241)

Realm of Numbersand Asimov'sRealm of Algebra. Unfortunately, a quick search at Google shows the hard cover edition ofRealm of Algebrais outrageously expensive. I had the paperback editions of each, and they were terrific. A huge help.Asimov wrote a whole lot of non-fiction books on math and science. His books demystify otherwise hard to approach subject matter. Highly recommended.

## I'm in a similar situation... (3, Insightful)

## bigjarom (950328) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978259)

## From the beginning (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978263)

## Text (1)

## H0D_G (894033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978279)

## The skills go quickly (3, Insightful)

## evildogeye (106313) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978283)

## www.chalkdust.com videos - very good! (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978285)

## A view from the other side... (4, Insightful)

## Sosetta (702368) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978297)

That being said, and the understanding that you don't want to pour in the money required to get a good teacher (craigslist looking for a math tutor is a place to start. If you start off with one and it doesn't feel like a good emotional fit, then get a different one. A good tutor will try to get a solid grasp of where you are now, and then start taking steps to get you moving forward from where you are. A great tutor will help you when you're stuck, but also give you specific resources that you can use to work on exactly what you need to be working on right now in your time away from the tutor), here's my advice.

First off, understand what exactly it is you are trying to do. You are trying to build abstract thought paths in your brain. This is hard to do. Many of the math problems you were presented with in high school were an attempt to get you to make the leap from specific application of concepts in lots of different ways to the abstract concept itself. In algebra, you do tons of factoring and other ways of solving the quadratic equation. The point of all those problems was that you would, through many problems approaching the concepts from different angles, fundamentally understand what parabolas are all about. Accurate quadratic thinking is much much harder than linear thinking. When you see a line, you know it's a line, but when you see a curve, it might be quadratic, cubic, exponential, logarithmic, or any of a host of variations.

So, do a bunch of problems to build your skills and gain fluency with the concepts. Then try to figure out exactly what it is that's really going on. There's often some really obvious reason that something works the way it does, if you can find it. For instance, the whole FOIL method for multiplying binomials like this: (x+3)(x+2). If you draw a rectangle, and put the x+2 on top and the x+3 going down the side, and break the rectangle into an x part and a 2 part vertically, and an x part and a 3 part going horizontally, then you'll get 4 rectangles that all add up to make the original rectangle. Their areas are x^2, 2x for the first row and 3x, 6 for the second row. Those are, respectively, the First, Outer, Inner, and Last products of the FOIL method. If you draw the picture, it's really obvious, and you'll wonder why you struggled with it for so long (if you did). A good tutor can help make it all easy for you by showing you the really obvious reasons why things work the way they do.

Good luck

## Re:A view from the other side... (0, Offtopic)

## miskatonic alumnus (668722) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978521)

## next up: (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978303)

## What do you need math for? (2, Insightful)

## Estanislao Martínez (203477) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978309)

That's the key question. What tasks are you doing regularly that your past failures to learn high school math are stopping your from?

I use some form or another of "math" regularly, but I'll tell you one thing: most of high-school math isn't very useful for me. I've never needed calculus, and barely ever needed geometry. Algebra is ocassionally useful, but the very basic bits of it are good enough (I remember that there is such a thing as the quadratic equation and factorization of polynomials, but I've never really needed to use them).

On the other hand, graph theory, mathematical logic, lambda calculus, probability and statistics have been very useful, and I suspect abstract algebra would also be so if I understood it. But guess what? None of those are regularly taught in high school. (Hell, mathematical logic isn't even regularly taught in university math departments.)

Don't just assume you need high school math. Make some effort to figure out what kind of math would be useful, and go with that. If you're into programming, you may want to try a discrete mathematics textbook.

## Read this book (2, Informative)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978311)

John Mighton, a math PhD and award winning playwright, founded a math tutoring program called Jump Math. It has been very successful with all kinds of student. In particular, it has worked for adult learners in jail. "The Myth of Ability" gives the basic philosophy of the program. Once you have read it, you will have the clues you need to direct your own math learning program.

Almost all the things we think about as intelligence are a result of pattern recognition. We really don't work by logic. Master level chess players, for instance, don't work out positions by logic. They can't work out moves much farther ahead than non-experts. What makes them experts is that they have studied thousands of games and they recognize situations when they see them. The way they got to be experts was by 'deliberate practice'. That's how you are going to learn math. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/magazine/07wwln_freak.html?_r=1&n=Top%2FFeatures%2FMagazine%2FColumns%2FFreakonomics&oref=slogin [nytimes.com]

Once you understand the underlying principles of how we learn and once you understand that the effort required will almost certainly lead to success, you will be much more likely to put forth the effort required.

## Buy a good calculus book (1)

## mbone (558574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978321)

It helps a lot if you have a reason to use it.

If you don't have the discipline to do this, take a class.

(Well, it's always worked for me....)

## Schaum's Outlines (1)

## kurtb149 (578487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978325)

## Re:Schaum's Outlines (1)

## raydulany (892228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978449)

## Work problems (1)

## try_anything (880404) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978337)

Plus, understanding does not guarantee facility with solving problems, and facility with solving problems is a very large advantage when it comes to the rest of your education. Consider the significance of calculus to learning college physics: If you're slick with calculus problems, you spend most of your time thinking about physics, and you actually get a deeper understanding of calculus in the process. If you have a hard time solving calculus problems, then you don't have any time to learn much about physics, because you spend all your time struggling with the calculus. I'm sure the same thing applies to economics. "Understanding" of calculus concepts won't save you if you have to spend eight hours struggling to solve the math problems in your econ homework, while your classmates knock out the math in two hours, spend two hours discussing the concepts with each other, and then spend four hours drinking and chasing women. You work twice as much, and they're still ahead. (Plus they have more fun and are fresh and energetic the next day.)

So, work problems. Working problems helps you understand things in the first place, helps cement your understanding, and helps you get faster and more confident in your work, which enables you to work and learn more efficiently.

## My approach (2, Informative)

## ed.markovich (1118143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978339)

Instead of looking for a curriculum, it sounds easier to find some relevant problems and work backwards. You mentioned that your lack of math is holding you back. Why not identify some specific cases of this, and learn enough math to overcome whatever issue made you feel this way? Doing this enough times will give you a solid background in math, I think.

In my own case, the reason I had to ramp up on math is that I was taking a pretty hardcore machine learning class during my masters. The course assumed a much deeper knowledge of linear algebra than I had. I literally had to do hours of research to understand many slides from the lectures which were really intended to be background and proofs, not the meat of the course. You can imagine that by the time the course ended (I got an A- which was a big deal for this class) I had a much stronger foundation in linear algebra and other math concepts than I did initially - even though I didn't set out to learn that stuff. Call it just-in-time learning. Now I am studying for the CFA (Level 1) and it also has some math, although nothing too hardcore. Still, the first volume contains a quantitative methods section which talks about statistics and the like. So again, even though my goal is to learn Finance, not math, I ended up refreshing a bit of math in the process.

Maybe this "just in time" learning isn't for everyone but it seems good to me in that it forces you to learn math that's the most relevant to your life, and it in a sense forces you to make sure you've learned it well, given that you'll be applying it immediately.

Also, MIT has some online courses that you should check out. I know you talked about highschool level stuff but why not be even more ambitious? For example, there's a series of video lectures with dr. Gilbert Strange about Linear Algebra. I don't think the course requires too much other background (and again, if he talks about a concept that you don't know, this is a great opportunity for additional just-in-time learning).

The main thing I am trying to say is that you should set a goal for yourself that's narrower than "learning everything". Define a concrete problem and solve it. For example, your problem could be as simple as watching all of the lectures mentioned above, or reading some calculus text. Instead of spending years learning everything everyone tells you that you need to know before you can do calc, just do the reading and then branch out into understanding pre-requisites as you encounter them in the text. I think this is a much more structured and motivating way to do it.

Good luck!

## Upgrading classes at a local community college (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978347)

(I did this and, quite accidentally, discovered it was actually enjoyable. I'll be graduating this year with a BSc in mathematics).

## fun books (1)

## marimbaman (194066) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978351)

The I Hate Mathematics! Bookby Marylin Burns, and alsoMath for Smarty Pantsby the same author. Martin Gardiner's recreational math books are also quite excellent. The best way to teach yourself math is to actually get interested in it, which the average textbook will not help you with.Fair warning: I'm now getting a PhD in applied math.

## college (1)

## br00tus (528477) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978359)

## Conceptual (1)

## Atmchicago (555403) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978381)

Possibly the most important point is to truly understand the concepts. Mathematics in some sense are self-evident - 2+2 will always equal 4, and the derivative of 2x (with respect to x) will always be 2. More complex ideas in math are equally self-evident, but are much harder to understand. As a result, a lot of math classes focus on memorization without understanding the ideas.

Buy a textbook and do the problems. But also be sure to read what the textbook is trying to say - why does the math work the way it does? For some people visualization helps. For others, verbally analyzing the logic is easier. However you go about it, don't try cramming formulas or theorems without understanding them. Memorization is hard, yet learning is more difficult - and more rewarding. Best of luck.

## maximize your curiousity (4, Interesting)

## Doviende (13523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978393)

Sometimes you'll find something that requires previous concepts that you don't yet have. This is fine, because now you can go look up those concepts with a sense of purpose. This will help you to your larger goal of the more interesting thing that you flipped to in the book. I did this when i picked up a book on fractals...lots of bright pictures, it seemed interesting. In there, they talked about integrals, which i hadn't learned yet, so i set out to find out what those were.

As for practical tips when you're learning one particular concept, reading textbooks is sorta like reading manpages in unix. it takes a certain mindset, and you usually want to pick out the relevant pieces from the page the first time around and then go back for specifics later. Textbooks are usually written very precisely and they sometimes have a lot of formal jargon or formulae that aren't useful the first time you read it, but can be helpful when you go back to get more details. So read it with that in mind. The first time through, don't expect to understand everything there. Just skip past the parts that are too hard and continue on, trying to get the general idea.

Next, do some of the easiest questions at the end of that section or chapter. Sometimes those questions may seem too easy, like you can just look at them and you think you know how to do it already. I suggest doing some anyway rather than skipping them. There's a difference between knowing the concept enough to recognize it in the questions, and actually knowing it well enough to do the questions quickly and correctly. Doing more questions is always good practice even when they seem easy at first glance.

When you've done several of the easy questions, you start to get more of an intuitive feel for the concept. Go on to the medium questions, and now you'll probably better understand the parts of the text that were difficult to understand on the first time you read the section. I suggest that you try hard to really understand the concepts in one chapter before you go onto the next one. If you have a solid grounding in the beginning, then the later stuff will be much easier and it'll be easier to get that intuitive understanding that lets you see the direction to the answer right from the start.

If you have several textbooks to choose from each time, then as you work your way through bits of each of them, you'll start to see the connections between different areas of math. This is something that most people don't get in their normal classes because they tend to focus too closely on one topic. If you wander through several topics following your curiousity, i think you'll get a better broad understanding of the connections, and it'll help you personally keep your motivation up so that you can continue to do it. remember to have fun with it. if it turns into a chore, then you'll stop doing it before you reach your goals.

have fun!

## Write little programs to solve problems (1)

## adminstring (608310) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978395)

Assuming you know a computer language, writing a computer program is a great way to do both of these things, since programming can be looked at as teaching the computer how to solve problems.

Start writing a program that is likely to involve the kind of math you want to learn, and since the development of your app will be dead in the water until you learn and successfully apply the math, you will have a great motivator for learning it and getting it right. Just get your hands on an applied math (applied algebra, applied calculus, etc.) book and look at the kinds of problems it has in it, then write programs to solve those kinds of problems. I would pick the books up at a used book store or thrift shop, since there's no need to spend big bucks on the latest shiny new edition from Amazon or a college bookstore.

## a live-person (1)

## icepick72 (834363) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978407)

## this is simply becuase (0, Troll)

## iLoveYoyo (1109245) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978435)

## community college (1)

## guacamole (24270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978445)

## Fear (1, Funny)

## icepick72 (834363) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978451)

## Free math lessons on YouTube (2, Informative)

## Maxmin (921568) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978453)

I've found a number of helpful math lessons on youtube recently. Some are actually pretty good. Just search for algebra [youtube.com] or whatever you're looking to learn. Last week I got refreshed on statistics [youtube.com].

Obviously there's a signal-to-noise ratio problem, just skip over the noise.

## I bet I know who this is! (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978455)

## How are your math skills holding you back? (1)

## tfiedler (732589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978473)

## Teaching math to the stranger in the mirror. (1)

## Charles Wilson (995273) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978487)

## One book: "What Is Mathematics?" (0)

## Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20978491)

It's a from-the-basics survey of modern understanding of math, and an excellent reference for all levels.

Here's a Wikipedia booksearch [wikipedia.org] link.

## Question (2, Informative)

## mkiwi (585287) | more than 6 years ago | (#20978497)

For Self Teaching- don't do it. Your main problem is finding out what learning mechanism works best for you and then finding a compatible mentor. Don't go to a local college and merely buy the textbooks there, you will get through the first chapter then realize you wasted $100 on a book you have no idea how to read.

Also, you need to decide how far in math you need to go. For calculus not all books are created equal. Find a simple book that has easy to understand examples but does not go too far. Make sure it has a few chapters on limits only- you need to know these to know calculus. On the other hand, you likely do not need to know how to check if an integral is converging or diverging, knowing how to do Taylor series, Laplace Transform, Invariant coordinate systems, etc. The book you select should have basic differential and integral calculus but nothing too advanced. Take baby steps. If you can work your way (with someone) through these things you will have a better chance to succeed and know what types of math you need to specialize in and how much.

Also, tell us what types of problems you are running in to or else we can't pin down a specific way to help you. What types of applications are you doing and what do you need to find out? You may only need differential and some basic integral calculus do to the work you need.

That's my advice for self-teaching, but I would suggest going to a community college or finding a mentor who will (maybe for a small fee) teach you the math.

Finally, if you do not understand the math you will not be able to use it in your job. Make sure you don't waste your time going down the wrong path. It's essential to have someone to ask and review your work so that you find out you are not doing things backwards and upside-down.

Learning math is similar to learning a language, although the constructs are vastly different between the two. It doesn't happen through osmosis and it's hard to get a good understanding of the "pronounciation" unless you have someone you can go to. Again, seriously consider taking some precalculus classes at a Community College then going on to calc. Without the foundation for the more advanced stuff you will get nowhere.

De toute façon, on chance!