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How to go about teaching myself.

  1. Jun 11, 2008 #1
    I have suddenly came to a realization that math and physics are almost non-existent in my life and I would like to change that. I am looking for a good starting point. I graduated college only taking college algebra, general physics, chemistry, biology, and a few other low level sciences.

    To tell the truth what sparked this sudden realization was an episode of NOVA. They were talking about newton doing calculations because he enjoyed to, this brought a memory back from early school days when I loved math and gave it up because it wasn't really cool to be good at it, instead of pre-calc/physics I ended up taking some dumb classes with some friends so we could goof off.

    Anyways, I am wondering what maths would be best to delve into first? I have never taken a calc or trig class, but I do have books for both subjects. I probably need to brush up on geometry and algebra too, but is there any order that seems to be best when dealing with the higher level stuff? I hope to get into more physics after that but I want to build a good base with mathematics first.

    Thanks for any help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2008 #2
    there's a book called "Concepts of Modern Mathematics" by Ian Stewart which you might like. It treats all the math abstractly and starts with set theory and concepts like 'what is a number' and such and builds up to topology and stuff and then from that you might want to move on to spivak's calculus and the spivak's calculus on manifolds and somewhere inbetween start reading feynman's lectures on physics. M.I.T. also offers video lectures for some of its courses.
  4. Jun 11, 2008 #3
    Or you could go the other route and try getting like a precalculus demystified or something type book.
  5. Jun 11, 2008 #4
    Thanks for the quick reply, I have calculus demystified already so thats a good one, I am going to try to find concepts of modern mathematics as it seems like it would be a really good starting point from your description. I will have to check out MIT to see if I can figure out where their lectures are, that sounds interesting.

  6. Jun 12, 2008 #5
    iTunes is a good place to get MIT or any other big American university Lectures. They have a small area called iTunes U, and most schools are just starting to go along the ride.

    If you have iTunes installed then just click this link:


    Hope this helped.
  7. Jun 12, 2008 #6
    Thanks for the link, there is all types of great stuff on there.
  8. Jun 12, 2008 #7
    Yeah its an awesome little store Apple thought of. Whenever I am in need of some outside lectures on a specific topic, I usually get them from there.
  9. Jun 12, 2008 #8
  10. Jun 12, 2008 #9
  11. Jun 13, 2008 #10
    A good place to start math is Calculus by James Stewart (not the actor, but who knows the actor anyways, I dont!).

    It a very good book. BUT you will need an instructor's manual to teach yourself, get that.
    The book is very clearly illustrated and very good to look at, and simple overall.
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