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Math/Science Books that grow on you

  1. Mar 21, 2017 #1
    I could have put this in "textbooks" but I am going for a more informal discussion.

    When I got my first copy of "Baby Rudin" I loathed it, as did just about every one of my classmates. I still think it is possibly a dated approach, and yet nowadays I return to it like an old friend. I remember when I was an undergraduate, running into grad students who talked about how much they "Loved Rudin." I thought they were just trying to pass themselves off as hardcore, but I think I understand now, although I don't do much analysis now I sometimes consult it while looking for useful results for Point Set Topology.

    I encountered Hatcher's Algebraic topology last year near the latter end of Algebraic topology. As far as I was concerned it had only one redeeming quality: It was free. Other than that, I had no idea why anyone would want to read it. It seems to start at the end, then go to the middle, then back to the end again before starting at the beginning. To this day I am not sure what order the book is meant to be read, but I do know one thing: I love this book. I don't know how to explain it. I wish I didn't have to study point set topology at all, so I could just lock myself in a room somewhere and study Hatcher.

    Anyone have this experience?

    -Dave K
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2017 #2
    I am currently finishing my undergraduate studies in mathematics and writing a paper based on Grillet's Semigroups, specifically targeting the Krohn-Rhodes theorem on finite semigroups.

    Words cannot begin to describe how much I hated this book at first. Trivial things aside, some extremely non-trivial claims are almost never properly explained. I'm fine with filling in the blanks when you can see the rabbit, but it's so tedious when the rabbit is supposed to be there, but there are hundreds (I'm exaggerating) of toppers to choose between, sometimes you can't find an explanation to the claim and you begin to doubt Grillet's work, then waste an hour minimum on trying to generate a counterexample which is needless to say, fruitless. In short, this book is written in a true monograph spirit. It's also designed with very hard covers. Perhaps, Grillet knew angry undergrads will be tossing this book around in a fit!

    ..BUT after a while of working with this book, I'm beginning to sense his way of reasoning. So much so, in fact, that I have begun to phrase explanations close to his style. I have learned a lot not only about semigroup theory, but logical inference from Grillet's work.
  4. Mar 21, 2017 #3
    It's as if these books are strict parents or teachers... the ones that always end up making you better despite the unpleasantness!
  5. Mar 21, 2017 #4
    I think it's because I am used to thorough material. Our lecturers provide very detailed explanations in the materials they prepared. You are not handed the rabbit, but you are shown the rabbit is in This one hat, pull it out with what you have learned Specifically from chapter X.y. Grillet is more like: FIND THE RABBIT!!!
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