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Maths is dry/boring?

  1. Yes

    14 vote(s)
    46.7%
  2. No

    10 vote(s)
    33.3%
  3. Other

    5 vote(s)
    16.7%
  4. Not sure

    1 vote(s)
    3.3%
  1. Sep 28, 2007 #1
    Most of the time, when someone complains maths is dry or boring is it because they are not getting it (rule out the case that the math they are doing is too easy in which case their assertion is well justified)?

    Or some other reason? LIke a bad book or teacher but it still is the fact that they are not getting it.

    If they think it's boring from doing too many exercises (and getting them right) then it's the case that it's too easy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2007 #2
    how much do you like to analyze things?

    -----------------------

    are you more 'into' :

    1) math

    2) philosophy

    3) other

    _________________________

    if you're thinking about the 'above', then, I would say 'philosophy'


    if you're already analyzing the 'percent' possibility of what others 'may' answer, you're 'into' math......
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2007
  4. Sep 28, 2007 #3

    J77

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    Some proofs can be tediously boring -- I found myself falling asleep in my office reading a functional analysis book the other day :biggrin:
     
  5. Sep 28, 2007 #4
    It's only boring when it gets ugly.
     
  6. Sep 28, 2007 #5

    radou

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    eg when expressions become too long and too over-indexed and stuff. :tongue:
     
  7. Sep 28, 2007 #6
    BUt did you understand the proofs?


    So you are not getting it which is a more direct way of saying it gets ugly or too long and so you think its boring?

    For me, if something makes very good sense then no matter how ugly or long I thought it was in the beginning, everything is good and no longer boring.
     
  8. Sep 28, 2007 #7
    I know I am not into philosophy because it uses natural language which is vague and I clearly don't understand it, whatever understand means, whatever means means:smile:. I prefer maths but its hard. Life is not perfect.
     
  9. Sep 28, 2007 #8

    J77

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    Yeah -- drummed into me from my student days -- I get no joy from them though.

    For me, it's just like solving, say, a PDE -- once you've got the steps, you just have to go through the motions -- except, the end result isn't as satisfying.

    Generally, I find no joy in "pure" maths of the theorem and proof kind.
     
  10. Sep 28, 2007 #9

    mjsd

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    this is just a matter of taste
     
  11. Sep 28, 2007 #10
    Maybe you should try doing the proofs yourself.
     
  12. Sep 28, 2007 #11

    J77

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    I did -- week after week in lectures and for homework :biggrin:
     
  13. Sep 28, 2007 #12

    radou

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    The best things look nice.
     
  14. Sep 28, 2007 #13
    proofs can be understood, ugly and boring at the same time.

    sad but true. That being said, they can usually be improved so they are not ugly. This doesn't always mean that everyone who understands it won't find it boring.
     
  15. Sep 28, 2007 #14
    I think it really depends on the person as well as the presentation and the subject. For instance, I find abstract algebra fascinating. However, no matter how exciting the professor is, I'd still find applied linear algebra to be really boring. (Matrix multiplication? Come on... boooooring... Can't we move onto something else?)

    I've also read books on exciting subjects that were just really dry and thus really boring. My ODE book for my Diff Eq course last year was very poorly written. I found the topic pretty interesting on its own, and since it was my first exposure to any linear algebra, I enjoyed the theoretical aspects as well. However, I couldn't stand reading the book. I've also seen books that were entertaining because the author had a really odd sense of humor.

    I've also seen other people who dislike math because they don't get it, and I've seen people who dislike math because, although they get it, they don't find it very applicable to what they are doing.

    I've also seen proofs that were really dry and boring (text book proof of Cauchy's Theorem via induction and stuff about factor groups was pretty boring) while others were really exciting (another proof of Cauchy's theorem using some group action with permutations on the group was really exciting and ingenious)
     
  16. Sep 28, 2007 #15
    I dunno, when the material is well presented it is very fascinating. The problem is with the teachers and the text books. The teachers tend to write theoretical bull on the board that probably 99% of the class doesn't understand. They fail to realize we are not yet mathematically mature to understand math like a second language. The books follow suite, and have go off topic while boasting about 10 different theorems. Or the other problem, where things are left as exercises and steps are skipped, or problems omitted. This supposedly makes us learn better. I disagree, as it results to the problems being omitted totally.

    For example, in linear algebra I remember learning about basis and how they were linear independent and all. Great, I memorized the rules and proofs, and even the linear independence test. There were like 10 other theorems derived from this. It was not until physics that I learned that linear independent vectors are actually orthogonal. The physics guy only drew 3d euclidean axis to emphasize this. Nowhere once is this mentioned in my math book. My math book instead finds it more interesting to talk about each linear indp. vector being uniquely represented as a linear combitnation...

    Another recent example is that of a boundary point. A ball that intersects the set and the subset... great I hard wired that to my brain. It was not until I saw a little drawing that showed this as a little circle at the end of a pictoral set.

    Honestly, theory is good and all but damn show some intuition. At times like those, as you can imagine, math is dull and it seems more that one is learning empty rules rather than facts. When math is presented well, where I get an intuitive feel with rigorous validity, I get a sense of discovery that rivals that of physics.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2007
  17. Sep 28, 2007 #16
    Philosophy
     
  18. Sep 28, 2007 #17

    mathwonk

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    once on the airplane i sat near a dry, boring lady, and then fortunately a charming young man came and sat between us. he began to question me about my interests and i thought how interesting this man is compared to the lady.

    then he turned to the lady and began to question her about her interests and i was at first jealous of losing his attention, then fascinated as she began to share her insights and interests with him and me.

    then he got off and i found myself happily talking to the same newly interesting lady.


    it was the curiosity of the young man that made both the lady and myself feel interesting, and actually become so.

    if you think a subject is dry and boring, i am sorry, it is you who are dry and boring.
     
  19. Sep 28, 2007 #18

    Hurkyl

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    Alas, you learned wrongly. The converse of that statement is true, however.


    Intuition is not a universal thing -- what I find intuitive you might find abstruse, and vice versa. IMO experience is really the best way to intuit something.

    So the pedagogical game is to hook the student so he stays interested long enough for him to start building his intuition -- but without watering the subject down so that he is building an intuition for a malformed version of what you are trying to teach him.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2007
  20. Sep 28, 2007 #19
    i'm thinking in the subspace they span they are.
     
  21. Sep 28, 2007 #20

    Hurkyl

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    Exercise: Find a pair of vectors in R^2 that are neither parallel nor perpendicular.
     
  22. Sep 28, 2007 #21

    mathwonk

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    ask yourself, do non collinear points always define perpendicular lines?
     
  23. Sep 29, 2007 #22
    sometimes it is because:

    1)lack of aptitude
    2)laziness/no desire to exert
    3)fear,due to an impatient,discouraging teacher/parent or both.
    4)lack of fundamental concepts
    5)"improper" ways of thinking/negative mentality
    6)lack of confidence
    7)lengthy proofs involving very little reasoning
    8)DOUBTS REGARDING THE SIGNIFICANCE AND APPLICABILITY OF CONCEPTS OF MATHS IN DAILY LIFE...
     
  24. Sep 29, 2007 #23

    Gib Z

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    I think the poll is quite closed minded. Someone may say maths is dry and boring, and its not always because they don't understand it. In fact, I think that's quite a supremest statement to make! This discussion is being made in the General MATH section, so it is not exactly the most fair treatment of the matter, but as some of you know here, before my pure math days I studied Physics with a passion, I only got into pure Mathematics about a year ago. At that time, I just wasn't that interested in it. I studied it only because I needed it to advance my studies in Physics, and it was through this I found my interest. The point is, I Understood the maths just as good as anyone did, but I still wasn't very interested in it. To me, it was a tool for my physics studies, I'm sure an electrician doesn't find his screwdriver terribly interesting! Just because you don't find it interesting doesn't mean you don't understand it. I'm sure many of you hated doing essay's on poets in high school, I know i don't, however I still understand the syllabus and perform quite well on my tests. I find the subject dry and boring, but I understand the content fine.
     
  25. Sep 29, 2007 #24

    mathwonk

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    to me thats like saying i know a lot about fine wine, i just think it doesnt taste good.

    or i know a lot about women, i just think they are no fun.


    i.e. these two statements are self contradictory.


    of course no one can convince you, but the implication is your exposure to the subject is limited.
     
  26. Sep 29, 2007 #25

    Gib Z

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    That is the point I was getting at. Before when maths was only a tool to me, for my physics studies, It wasn't that interesting. With increased exposure, I gained interest and now it is my primary study.

    I didn't actually say the people who consider a subject boring know much about it, but perhaps their limited exposure to the subject has no been very exciting. I know my Shakespearian poetry analysis hasn't been...I'm just saying someone might find maths dry or boring because what they've been exposed to is not all maths has to offer. They might understand that limited amount of mathematics that they are exposed to though.

    I would have thought that is a completely ridiculous comment for it! If you don't find a subject interesting, it's because you don't understand it!
     
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