Sunday, March 19, 2006

An Interesting Way To Learn Math (Written By A Programmer)

Follow this link.

"The right way to learn math is breadth-first, not depth-first. You need to survey the space, learn the names of things, figure out what's what."

"The right way to learn math is to ignore the actual algorithms and proofs, for the most part, and to start by learning a little bit about all the techniques: their names, what they're useful for, approximately how they're computed, how long they've been around, (sometimes) who invented them, what their limitations are, and what they're related to. Think of it as a Liberal Arts degree in mathematics."

"Why? Because the first step to applying mathematics is problem identification. If you have a problem to solve, and you have no idea where to start, it could take you a long time to figure it out. But if you know it's a differentiation problem, or a convex optimization problem, or a boolean logic problem, then you at least know where to start looking for the solution."

I learned most of the math I know that way. Mainly because, deep down, I know I suck at all the math details and I'm more useful to other people as a human indexer of mathematical technologies for my friends and students. Right now, I'm learning Bayesian statistics for mathematical modelling for my friends' projects.

Life is short, Mathematics lasts forever.

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