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In other words

  1. Oct 14, 2009 #1
    "In other words... "

    Thank god for that phrase.

    Is it just me or can no one else understand something explained in a textbook in a more technical manner?

    Usually my brain is on the verge of exploding until that phrase pops up or an example is presented. After that I'm like, "Oh! That's what they're saying".

    I understand the need to be precise... but is the typical student supposed to understand these definitions like a first language?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2009 #2


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    Re: "In other words... "

    Example? In math at least, most definitions are expected to be understood by the reader without further explanation beyond perhaps a couple examples or a clarifying statement to make it clear why you are interested in the definition
  4. Oct 14, 2009 #3
    Re: "In other words... "

    A big part of maths education is about learning how to read texts like that.
  5. Oct 14, 2009 #4
    Re: "In other words... "

    I know where you're coming from though, especially with physics texts. I find it extremely hard to comprehend their explanations, and usually require a teacher's reiteration.
  6. Oct 14, 2009 #5
    Re: "In other words... "

    I'm also like that. I find it difficult to learn math deductively, and I always need a few examples. Also one thing that helps is to buy different textbooks to have different explanations of the same thing.
  7. Oct 14, 2009 #6
    Re: "In other words... "

    This is more an issue of confidence in the topic than the language. Certainly there is the odd text where the author has either intentionally obscured his train of thought so you are left to believe "How the hell did he do that?!" or the author is simply incapable of communicating their ideas in any other way. (See some of Weiner's mathematical papers...). But in most cases thats simply the language that is used to communicate the ideas.

    It really comes down to a lack of confidence in yourself and your ability to understand the material. The more you work in the field the more that goes away. I know for a long time I never felt confident that I had gotten the whole picture until I had someone else (a professor for ex.) tell me exactly what I was thinking. Its simply that reassurance that you haven't missed somthing vital that makes the understanding set in.

    In other words... the more you work at it the more understanding you develop for what the language means. Once the confidence is there, everything flows like wine... or with wine... something like that.
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