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Abstract algebra

  1. Jan 21, 2016 #1
    I'm taking an abstract algebra course that uses Hungerford's "An Introduction to Abstract Algebra" 3rd Ed. And while I feel like I'm following the material sufficiently and can do most of the proofs it's hard to learn and practice the material without a solutions guide. How am I supposed to know the work I've practiced outside of class is correct, or if I have misunderstood a fundamental concept without a way to check my work?

    I understand that as I approach subjects that are intrinsically more difficult it will require more time to understand the concepts. I'm taking abstract and real analysis simultaneously, on top of physics and cs courses, so staring at a page for hours on end isn't really a viable solution. Whereas simply looking at the solution to the problem could show me the error in my understanding in a matter of minutes.

    That being said... is there a solutions manual / solutions anywhere? I've been scraping the web and have come up empty handed. I can't even find an instructor's solutions manual.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2016 #2
    Using a solution manual is cheating your way to a solution. It will get you a very nice and well-crafted solution. But it won't teach you at all about the process it takes you to get that solution. It is that process that is most important, not the eventual solutions to the problems.
    Trust me, if you're going to keep relying on solution manuals, it will hit you in the face eventually.. hard.

    Staring at a page for hours is a very decent strategy. I stare at pages for several hours too before it clicks. If you can't afford the time it takes you to get a "click", then you shouldn't be taking abstract algebra.
  4. Jan 21, 2016 #3


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    Still, I think there is something to be said for looking at just the first few solutions , reverse engineering them, to get a feel for how things are done. As long as you use this just as intro help and not your usual approach, I thinking it could be helpful.
  5. Jan 22, 2016 #4


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    Just for using solution manuals or answer keys in general,
    Do as much as you can on each exercise and only check the solution in the manual AFTER you have done your best work.
  6. Jan 22, 2016 #5


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    I agree, I think the pure bottom-up approach is over-emphasized.
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