How Should You Tackle Being Stuck on a Math Problem?

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In summary, the conversation discusses the process of studying math and how to approach understanding new theorems. The speaker suggests trying to sketch out the proof before reading the given proof and taking breaks to avoid getting stuck. They also mention the benefits of discussing with classmates and going back to look for missed information.
  • #1
fischer
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Hi.

i'm an undergrad, and a beginner in maths.

i don't really know how other people study math ( i really don't since i haven't really asked anyone ), but typically when you see a new theorem, you try to prove it, right? now, I'm not talking about being able to correctly write down the proof in perfect detail, but you try to get the main idea, and write down how the proof might go, and then try to understand what the result would imply... (right?)

now, there are theorems that you "get" soon enough, but some have pretty original ideas and they take a while to get. my question is, if you are stuck - let's say for 3+ hours - trying to sketch the proof of the new theorem, what do you do?

do you just read the proof given? or do you put it away for a while to think about it again later?

i really don't know what to do when I'm stuck.
i'm studying all alone, btw.

thanks in advance.
 
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  • #2
Go away and leave it alone. You'll find that an idea will come to you when you least expect it, or when you come back to it, you'll be fresh. Staying too long on one problem can lead you to get into confused knots.

I just have to take my own advice now :lol:
 
  • #3
bouncing ideas off classmates helps a lot too
 
  • #4
thanks for the input! :)

well one thing i did realize is that often the reason i was stuck was because i failed to notice something more basic. of course my experience is quite limited so i don't know if this is worth mentioning in a more advanced setting... ( more likely that it is general knowledge ... *nervous chuckle* ) so sometimes if i just go back and try to find out what i missed, things work themselves out...
 

Related to How Should You Tackle Being Stuck on a Math Problem?

1. What causes a person to get stuck?

There can be various reasons why a person may get stuck, such as lack of motivation, lack of resources, unclear goals, or fear of failure.

2. How can I get unstuck?

To get unstuck, it is important to first identify the root cause of the problem. Once identified, you can try breaking down the problem into smaller, manageable tasks and seek help or guidance from others.

3. Is it normal to get stuck in my work?

Yes, it is completely normal to get stuck in your work or research. It is a part of the learning process and can actually lead to new insights and solutions.

4. How can I prevent getting stuck in the future?

To prevent getting stuck in the future, it is important to stay organized, set clear and achievable goals, and constantly evaluate and adjust your progress. It is also helpful to take breaks and seek inspiration from others in your field.

5. What can I do when I am stuck for a long time?

If you have been stuck for a long time, it may be helpful to take a step back and reassess your approach. You can also seek feedback from others or try a new approach to the problem. It is important to not get discouraged and remember that getting stuck is a natural part of the learning and problem-solving process.

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