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Is this an extremely easy question? Not homework.

  1. Jul 7, 2012 #1
    Hello my apologies if this goes against rules idk if this applies to rules but I was watching Neil deGrasse Tyson talk with Steven Colbert for an hour and a half and at one point he answered a question from the audience by saying that Einstein, being the genius he is created his own way of mathematics?

    I would wonder how? Like if 4/2 = 2 then could there be a completely new way to get this answer, of course something like 6+4 = 10/5 = 2 but I mean is there any other way?

    I dropped out of school because my teachers were so fed up with how hard it was to teach me how to do things I couldn't take the hate anymore.

    But I can't help it. It's like this itch to just know about everything, I want to get to a point where I know so much that I can help in the next difficult equation in quantum physics!

    I know my ideas are far-fetched but if I could possibly come up with my own way of doing equations and math then it would be a lot simpler, no?

    Really apologize to anyone having to take a deep breath at my ignorance on anything I just said!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2012 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Do some reading about Srinivasan ramanujan. He was a self taught mathematician that was neglected for most of his life until discovered by GH Hardy and brought to England. He filled many notebooks with ideas, some which are still being investigated today. It was said mathematician could spend a life career investigating even one of his books, he was that prolific. To be fair though some of his ideas didn't pan out but many did and that's why he's recognized today as a great mathematician. In a sense he generated new ideas for mathematicians to investigate rather like the proof will be left to the student type of problem.

    If you do it your own way then others will not know what you did and whether you're even right. So rather than struggle with learning your way they will reject your work thinking its from a quack.
  4. Jul 7, 2012 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Some other alternative math to look at with respect to 4/2 problem is tracktenberg math. Wikipedia has an article on it. Tracktenberg developed a form of speed math while living in a concentration camp during ww2.
  5. Jul 7, 2012 #4
    Can you explain the trachtenberg system in great detail please? It'd be much appreciated, this looks like something that'd be most valuable in my mathematical arsenal!

    I didn't understand the example in wikipedia, where he got the 8x6
  6. Jul 8, 2012 #5


    Staff: Mentor

    tracktenberg math excels in multiplication problems with many digits using a sequence of rules to apply repeatedly and accumulatively. The classic example is 987654321 x 11 with the rules for 11 being

    1) take the units digit and write it down

    2) take the next digit add it to its neighbor on the right and put down the result hold the carry for the next step

    3) repeat step 2 until you reach the highest digit

    4) take the highest digit and put it down

    1=6+5 carry 1 for next step
    4=7+6+1 again carry 1 for next step
    6=8+7+1 carry...
    8=9+8+1 carry...

    the answer is 10864197531= 987654321 x 11

    for the 8 x 6 example think of it as 08 x 6

    8 = 8+0(half of its neighbor 0)
    4 = 0+4( half of its neighbor which is 8)

    similarly for 7 x 6 think 07 x 6
    2=7+0+5 (half of its neighbor 0 and add 5 since 7 is odd) generates a carry for next step
    4=0+3+1 (half of its neighbor 7 is 3 (we throw away the 1/2 part) and add the carry)

    the rules eliminate memorizing the multiplication tables and actually writing down intermediate results as you would when multiplying by 11.

    The trachtenberg system can be shown to follow known algebraic steps. It isn't magic or an easy road to learning math.
  7. Jul 8, 2012 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Hey RockyC and welcome to the forums.

    For your problem, I would say yes you can come up with your own ways of solving problems in your own manner. In fact, a substantial portion of mathematics is all about finding new ways to look at problems that haven't been solved, and in the process methods come about to solve old problems in new ways and subsequently give a new way to look at things that weren't completely anticipated.

    The only thing I would caution is that you make sure that if you develop some kind of thinking to solve something whether its for doing arithmetic or solving a differential equation, that you double check your work and maybe ask a few other people to see if they can find anything wrong with it: preferably people who are unbiased and who don't mind spending some time looking at your work.

    Other than this, no reason to not go ahead.
  8. Jul 8, 2012 #7
    Some respect for the equal sign is a requirement for a mathematician.

    (6 + 4)/5 = 10/5 = 2
  9. Jul 8, 2012 #8


    Staff: Mentor

    good catch! I missed that.
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