1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How Often Should I Practice Math?

  1. May 4, 2012 #1

    M83

    User Avatar

    This probably varies on an individual basis, but generally speaking how often should I practice math in order to achieve a mastery level of it? Is it number of hours? Number of problems? A combination of both? Thanks for any feedback.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2012 #2


    In order to aspire reasonably to master mathematics you can't limit yourself to "practice" it: you must live it.

    DonAntonio
     
  4. May 4, 2012 #3

    M83

    User Avatar

    Could you expand on that?
     
  5. May 4, 2012 #4
    Often is just too subjective. You should continue to do practice problems until you feel completely at ease. What level of mathematics are you dealing with anyway?
     
  6. May 4, 2012 #5

    mathwonk

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    if you want to do research and compete with the best on a national or international level, you must do it basically all the time. based on your own expectations, you can extrapolate backwards from there.


    But it isn't good for you on any other level as a human being. so what to do ?????
     
  7. May 4, 2012 #6
    Wait. It's not? :cry::cry:
     
  8. May 4, 2012 #7

    M83

    User Avatar

    I'm still at the basic levels. I'll be starting Precalculus this summer and then Calculus 1 in the fall. I'm going to major in Physics.

    My goal is to get into research so I don't mind practicing every day, but I want to make sure I'm not practicing too little.
     
  9. May 5, 2012 #8
    If you want to make sure you're not practicing too little, then practice every day.
     
  10. May 5, 2012 #9

    mathwonk

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    i could be wrong, and frequently am. but "all work and no play..." as they used to try to tell me.

    i am pretty sure all work and no play, as well as all play and no work, cause problems. (I speak from experience.)
     
  11. May 5, 2012 #10

    M83

    User Avatar

    I find myself fluctuating between these two extremes, unfortunately.
     
  12. May 5, 2012 #11
    I recently had to end my career as a software developer because the excessive typing damaged the tendons in my hands. I'm currently living with my folks as a result, and so the majority of my time is spent studying math and physics so that I can catch up with people in my age group (who are ahead of me on account of my having "wasted" so much time on software engineering).

    So, my current routine is such that I wake up in the morning and do math exercises from my textbooks, straight out of bed. By around noon I've usually learned something new and complicated enough that's it's worth writing a few pages of notes on, so I go ahead and write for an hour or two. Then I do more exercises, or I do some reading if necessary to get to yet more exercises. By around 7pm or 8pm I start to get a bit sleepy, and so I crawl into bed and do some non-technical reading, usually history books, and usually history of mathematics books in particular. I get to sleep at around 10pm and then get up at 6am to repeat the whole study schedule all over again, ad infinitum, or until my folks kick me out :-p

    I also have a girlfriend from a nearby college who I go out with a few times per week, so I'm not a total shut-in (though I have embarrassingly little social life outside of just her). But by and large my life since having moved back home has been all studying, basically all of the time. I don't think there's anything like "too much" if you really enjoy it.

    Like DonAntonio said, "live it" :-)
     
  13. May 5, 2012 #12
    I am also intending to become a mathematician and there is almost always some mathematical problem or concept which is lingering in the back of my mind. So 'all the time' is actually a more serious answer than at first it might appear. I wouldn't be able to count the number of times that I've come upon the solution to a proof while in the shower or driving somewhere or just sitting idly waiting for someone.

    I get the impression that mathematicians spend the majority of their time confused about something or other, so there is always something to think about, mathwonk could probably confirm this.
     
  14. May 5, 2012 #13
    Excellent way of putting it, agreed! :-)
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook