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As a math major, should I study math as a hobby?

  1. Jul 4, 2016 #1
    Kind of a dumb question, but sometimes reading math books (most recently, a book on elementary probability) in addition to the coursework I already have for my summer session gets to be a bit too stressing. I feel like I should have math as a hobby as someone who is majoring in it. I mean, I enjoy it, that's true. But I think I enjoy it only when it has a payoff, like if I'm getting a grade for it. If I see that I'm doing my self-studying correctly, then I don't feel that same sense of accomplishment as when I'm doing work for the class for the same subject. I don't really feel that it's worth the effort when I self-study. Yet, as a math major, I feel like I should enjoy math, and should make a hobby of it. What do you think? As a math major, should I study math in my free time?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    This question often comes up for physics majors as we got into physics after reading a popularization of physics or the biography of some physicist. In my case, it was a biography of Albert Einstein.

    Later I read many popularizations of the time and had real trouble relating the popularization to what I was learning. Always the answer was to go back to the math and not the insight you "gained" from the popularization.

    For math its the same way, popularizations show the highlights of discoveries but not the math that got to it and you are left confused. One book I did enjoy was the book by Prof Elwes called Math 1001 which highlighted many areas of math, some of the discoveries made and the current problems of interest. It was great to peruse topics and pick one out to explore online always hoping for that ever elusive Field's medal.
  4. Jul 4, 2016 #3
    Yes, always study or review something on the side. Maybe have a different book on the subject you are taking a class for, and work through both.
    If you want some side reading, Courant: What is Mathematics? is a good book.
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