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Learning to really make use of mathematics?

  1. Dec 19, 2011 #1
    Hello, everyone.
    I have recently been plagued by the knowledge that I have no useful mathematical skills for problem solving. I'm currently in my first year of university and doing quite well with everything.
    The problem is, when I try working through some math problems (such as those on project euler and mathschallenge), I am incapable of adequately solving even the simplest (1 star) problems myself. I have a full highschool education- in fact, I graduated having done both years of advanced placement mathematics, pre-calc, and physics with honors (90%+ average). I still 'know' the formulae and methods that were 'taught' to me, but I find that, when it actually comes to putting them to use to solve even these recreational problems, I just don't have the capacity.
    I would love it if you could share some resources, techniques, ideas, &c. for learning to really put mathematical 'knowledge' into application in the form of problem solving.
    Thanks in advanced.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2011 #2

    micromass

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    Problem solving is a skill that is usually not taught in high school, so you're not alone. I fear that the only solution is to make a lot of problems.

    I realize that even the star 1 problems can be hard for somebody not acquainted to problem solving. But I suggest you take out a good book on discrete mathematics and solve its problems. Discrete mathematics doesn't require much prerequisites and can be quite challenging. So I suggest you work through it.

    Finally, there are many different disciplines in math. And maybe the kind of problems on the websites are simply not your thing?? Many people hate analysis while others are very good in it. The same thing might be happening here.

    Just try to solve many problems, you'll grow good in it!!
     
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