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An adult - become a mathematician in the UK

  1. Sep 18, 2013 #1
    An adult -- become a mathematician in the UK

    What would be the best and most effective route for an adult to become a mathematician in the UK as it is evident that you need to be one to become a physicist or be a good one at least. Well that appears to be the case from all my wikipedia reading. Are is it too late. I am 28 did anyone else come to this stuff late in their life?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 18, 2013 #2


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    Math is a young man's game. By the time you are an adult [25+], it is difficult to gain deep insight - although not impossible. Visualization, especially geometric, is the key ability. Our ability for deep visualization tends to diminish after our mid 20's. There are, however, notable historical exceptions - although I suspect most of these ideas originated when they were much younger and published later in life. Prior to the 20th century, published papers by mathematician's under age 30 were quite rare. Now, they are relatively common, although still often with sponsorship by a senior mentor.
  4. Sep 18, 2013 #3
    Your right their is much I can"t seem to grasp even though I am just doing GCSE I can't see how this stuff all pertains to shape and geometric constructs or whatever the hell it is. I mean from casual reading of higher stuff it just fries my head. It is rather frustrating like I tried doing something probably simple to you guys from the PEDMAS thread. And I didn't get it probably cause I broke some rules with the PEDMAS due to the exponents.


    I went (4a+b) (4a+b) (4a+b) = 12a+12b
    (2a+2b) (2a+2b)= 4a+4b

    12a+12b/4a+4b= 3a+3b


    Jesus I am probably screwed come November when I got my test.

    I really gotta buy a load of books and get the finger out I probably won't achieve anything but the fact this stuff eludes me frustrates the hell out of me I once thought I was relatively intelligent but now I feel dumb.
  5. Sep 18, 2013 #4
    I have a lot of friends who are doing their PhD in totally different areas. All of them are elder than you.
  6. Sep 18, 2013 #5
    On second thought...


    = 4a^3+ 4b^3
    = 2a^2+ 2b^2

    4a^3+ 4b^3/2a^2+ 2b^2= 2(a+b)????????? I am unsure where the 5 exponent comes out if it is divided

    aaa/aa= a bbb/bb= b

    Meh I certainly know how to make a mess of things lol.
  7. Sep 18, 2013 #6


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    While one needs to know a fair amount of mathematics to be a physicist, one does NOT need to "become a mathematician" first! Those are completely different fields.
    (And neither has very much to do with basic algebra.)
  8. Sep 18, 2013 #7
    Agree. Nevertheless, basic algebra is necessary.
  9. Sep 18, 2013 #8
    The notation may be a little confusing
    4(a+b)^3/2(a+b)^2 in Wolfram alpha reads
    4*(a+b)^3 * 1/2 * (a+b)^2 = 2 * (a+b)^5
  10. Sep 18, 2013 #9

    Stephen Tashi

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    A historical example of a mathematician who got a late start is Leibnitz. I don't know any late starters personally.

    People vary in their approach to intellectual topics as adults. Some prefer literature, philosophy and other fields where concepts are not defined and explored in legalistic language. Others are at home with legalism and highly technical documentation. Of those that handle legal and technical matters, some seek simplistic mechanical procedures and tend to think that any complex technical subject (e.g. bridge, chess, golf) can be mastered "if only it were explained well". To enter mathematics as an adult, I suspect the requirement is that you must already have an inclination to technical language and you must not have the expectation that mathematics can be explained as a collection of simple rules and procedures.
  11. Sep 18, 2013 #10
  12. Sep 18, 2013 #11
    I am 60, I am still studying math. I mostly studying on my own except ODE. I went to a class and not only I got an "A", I was the first in the class. I studied to at least "A" level, I don't even go to the any class because only choice I have is San Jose State, the standard is too low. I strongly disagree that this is a young man's game, that you can't get deep insight when you get older. I do most of my study after I turn 50. I have ABSOLUTELY NO ISSUE understanding and analyzing theories, my problem is I forget things easily, I don't have the memory of my younger days..... I studied RF/microwave, electromagnetics, Cal I, II and III, PDE all on my own. I have no issue with it. I actually communicated with professors in San Jose State, got their homework and exam and I did double of that. I STRONGLY DISAGREE THAT YOU CANNOT BE GOOD AFTER 28. TRY 60!!!

    28 is nothing, that is still young. Of cause you need to be intelligent, make no mistake about it. But if you have that, it's all about heart, how much heart do you have? If you have the heart, and the require intelligence, you can go far. It's the heart.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2013
  13. Sep 18, 2013 #12
    I can't.....or not even try to read this!!!! If you do decide to pursue education, learn LaTex here and post the equation:
  14. Sep 19, 2013 #13
    I will man but I still dont get how that which you have above doesnt equal 2a+2b. I put numbers in this and use pedmas but them guys where linking some stuff that made no sense to me whatsoever.
  15. Sep 19, 2013 #14
    It was this thread under the general maths section which caused me the confusion "Why can't Scientists and People Understand PEMDAS?" I think I shall return to my studies though and not post here until I am more informed even the mentor said something that to me seems absurd.

    2(2+1) ÷ 2(2+1) ?

    Which to me is 1....They however argued it was 9 no matter what way I look at this I cannot find no number 9. Unless there is some semantic argument on the order of operations I don't understand. Now I hope they dont get cross I aint trying to bring up a old argument I would appreciate it greatly if he could explain to me as simple as possible how you could get the number 9
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
  16. Sep 19, 2013 #15

    Am I missing something?
  17. Sep 19, 2013 #16
    If I read
    2(2+1) ÷ 2(2+1)
    as 2*(2+1) ÷ 2*(2+1)
    =2 * 3 ÷2*3
    = 6÷2*3
    = 3*3
    = 9
  18. Sep 19, 2013 #17


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    Yes, but generally I would interpret an implied multiplication as being higher precedence than a division operator, which results in the answer being 1.
  19. Sep 19, 2013 #18
    At least, if you google 2(2+1) ÷ 2(2+1)
    the result is 9

    both multiplication and division belong to level 3
  20. Sep 19, 2013 #19
    I got this answered by a friend but cheers for the reply your right its a simple case of GIGO in other words typing it in wrong to wolfram etc. Even the guys on the other thread typed stuff in wrong. So sorry to that mentor he was right I didnt understand their argument but now I do thanks to my friend and you guys
  21. Sep 20, 2013 #20


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    Sure, but there is definitely an element of ambiguity - how would you interpret 5x ÷ 3y for example?

    (The solution is to make sufficient use of parentheses or correct formatting to remove any ambiguity)
  22. Sep 21, 2013 #21


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    all us older mathematicians think it is utter nonsense to claim that math is a youngster's game. at any rate it does not matter. you cannot change your age but you can change your education level.
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