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How do I get motivation to study mathematics?

  1. Oct 8, 2011 #1
    I've always liked mathematics, and I've always preferred to study mathematics over any other discipline. But now that I'm studying at a more advanced level, it's kind of hard to keep the motivation to study it.

    For you who study mathematics, what's your motivation for studying it(other than getting good grades)?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2011 #2
    It's the exact opposite for me. The harder the topic, the more motivated I become. You might think I'm kind of weird but certain people get high off of weed. I get high from figuring out tough math problems. LOL. That high is unlike anything else in the world...

    On another note, maybe the topic just isn't what you want to learn?
  4. Oct 8, 2011 #3
    Where does that motivation come from? I guess you have that motivation because you like to challenge yourself mentally? Our motivation is totally different I think, I prefer the part of studying the theory rather than resolving problems.

    For me the harder the topic, the more hard I have to work (of course). And the more I work, the more I think if that knowledge is worth the effort.

    I can't see me learning anything else than mathematics, I don't even care much about physics (even though I'm in physics bachelor). Sometimes I get really excited from learning, and I even go to previous maths text books and internet to see the connections with the things I've learned before.
  5. Oct 8, 2011 #4
    I'm not sure where that motivation comes from exactly. Its just the feeling I get after finishing a problem. After every problem I look forward to the next time I can feel ...that feeling I guess you would say lol. Accomplished? Maybe. Satisfied? Maybe. I don't know what that feeling is exactly but it's addictive.

    I also enjoy the theory more than crunching numbers. I plan to go to graduate school to study pure mathematics but I plan to make a career in applied mathematics. I haven't figured out how that's going to work yet but I'll manage. I guess you can call me a hybrid. I like both applied and theoretical.

    I don't mean you aren't interested in math in general. I meant maybe you aren't interested in that type of math that you are doing. For example, my interests are in number theory and differential equations. Something I do enjoy but would find boring from time to time would be like statistics. Maybe the topic you are learning right now isn't entertaining to you. I know when something gets boring to me I lose motivation.
  6. Oct 8, 2011 #5
    Well I'm not sure how far you've gotten in math or what types of classes you're taking but I do know mathematics encompasses an enormous and strikingly diverse body of knowledge and there is generally something for everyone. if you're more interested in mathematical beauty and appreciating the theory than in being a problem solver, then I imagine algebra is what would float your boat; where one is more focused on checking tautologies and looking at illuminating examples, rather than on investigating the often idiosyncratic behavior of a particular mathematical object.

    Although I do find in these structure/theory heavy areas of math that it can generally be quite dry and difficult to keep up the motivation until you accrete enough of the theory to begin to see the forest rather than the trees, so to speak, and then it is quite a lovely experience.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2011
  7. Oct 8, 2011 #6
    Uuuh, what?? Algebra isn't about problem solving??? Algebra was INVENTED for problem solving!!!! Those nice algebraic structures are there for a reason. They aren't there only to be aesthetically pleasing...
  8. Oct 8, 2011 #7


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    One thing that motivates me to study mathematics is when you come across certain results or frameworks that allow you to do really powerful things.

    For example in experimental design, there are generic methods to find whether there are interaction effects between treatments. It might seem irrelevant to you, but to me I'm amazed that someone or a group of people developed this generic tool to find interactions.

    Also before I did formal study in mathematics I used to program and I did game design. If you want to see applications of tonnes of mathematics, then this is definitely a good candidate. Interested in geometry? Then look at 3D math, parametric objects (Splines, NURBS), spatial classification algorithms (used in collision detection and to optimize things like rendering. What about lighting models? Look at standard lighting, radiosity lighting, ray-tracing. They all contain math, including calculus.

    This is one reason why I like math, because I did a lot of programming that applied the math and as a result I can see applications a lot quicker than if I did not take on this route.
  9. Oct 8, 2011 #8
    I've kind of had the same problem, too. What makes me motivated is that there are a lot of beautiful theorems in math. When I was little I was extremely interested in math because I loved solving problems and finding patterns and really understanding what's going on. Now I find that I need to look for beautiful theorems in math to keep me engaged. If you have time and don't know some examples already, you might want to read about the Riemann hypothesis, the Gauss-Bonnet theorem, and Gauss' theorem egregium. I'm reading Hungerford's Algebra right now, and it's hard to stay motivated unless you read outside the textbook to see how algebra is used in more interesting theorems, like Polya's enumeration theorem. Also you might want to learn about the 17 crystallographic groups or something.
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