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A while back I set out to learn Calculus, but I quickly lost interest. I realize now that my problem was my failure to set a clear goal. I was just reading through chapters of online textbooks and doing exercises, but I never felt like I was getting any closer to anything. Sure, I was "learning Calculus", but there's really no end to Calculus, or math in general for that matter. You can "learn" it forever, all day just sitting there reading textbooks.

So I asked myself why I felt the need to learn Calculus, and the answer is that I feel like I am not equipped to analyze the world at large adequately. I constantly wonder about the causes of things, particularly in the context of large groups of people. When I realized this, I realized that the real reason that I need to learn Calculus is so that I can use statistical methods to analyze data about people.

This brings us to the subject of this thread: data mining. I'll admit up front that I haven't "done my research" regarding the topic--that is, I haven't scoured the web for resources on it before resorting to asking for information on a forum. However, I think that such an approach is backwards, anyway; if you are interested in learning about a topic, it is much, much more efficient to find an expert in that topic and ask him to point you in the right direction than it is to wander around blindly, reading this article and that book on the subject at random. For instance, I have played and studied chess for several years, and I know for a fact that someone would be better off asking me where to start in terms of learning the game than they would be wandering the internet reading articles and ebooks on chess.

Anyway, with that disclaimer aside, can anyone with experience in the field of data minining or statistical analysis of data "point me in the right direction"? In my own opinion, the best course of action would be to learn differential and integral calculus by doing mostly word problems (I am a huge believer in word problems when it comes to really learning math), and then to do the same for statistical analysis.

Can anyone modify or flesh out this plan for me (preferrably with useful links? :D)?

Thank you for your time.

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# Data Mining

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