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Not good at abstract math am i an idiot

  1. Dec 5, 2014 #1
    I'm good at math like stats calc and others that r more process based. But I suck at things like abstract math, pure math , proofs etc.

    Am I an idiot? I'm OK with being stupid, I know it does not define a persons worth..
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    To do abstract math and proofs is a very different skill from applied math. It takes understanding definitions and logic and melding them together to make a convincing proof making sure not to make a mistake. It's a lot like playing a game of chess in your head before your opponent has even made his move evaluating different attacks.

    Abstract math is also about seeing patterns and then seeing patterns in the patterns and being to use them to find even more patterns. Marhematicians look for the governing rules and then wonder what if this rule didn't apply what would the set look like.

    As an example, the set of integers is closed under addition so someone asks what if the numbers were even still closed right what if they were odd oops not closed... So now we know something new and so it goes...
  4. Dec 5, 2014 #3
    Igj so exp helps?

    OK so exp helps. But how stupid am I.
    Even if I know the subject word problems give trouble
  5. Dec 6, 2014 #4


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    2017 Award

    I have two thoughts:
    1) Math proofs and abstraction can come as a surprise to a lot of people. It takes some time to catch on. There are patterns to proofs and abstractions just as there are patterns to calculations. Don't draw conclusions too early -- you might be the best of us.
    2) If you are good at the calculations of statistics and calculus, you are not dumb. I work with some people who whiz through calculations while I am still fumbling around. I am good at other things. I appreciate them and (I think) they appreciate my skills. One of the great pleasures is to work on a team where people have different talents and they combine their skills to produce a superior product.
  6. Dec 7, 2014 #5
    That's just memorization tho.
  7. Dec 7, 2014 #6
    The thing is that, as mentioned above, proof-based math requires an entirely different set of skills than computational math, which means (Oh joy!) it requires its own, separate many hours of practice.

    I was terrible at writing proofs when I was first exposed to them. I'm not a math major (I'm in engineering), but I very much enjoy pure math. After being active in my school's math club, working problems, and reading up on pure math on my own, I eventually got the hang of it, and I'm much more comfortable with the nuances involved in proofs (but I'm far from the best proof writer). Proof writing is a skill that you can practice, just like an instrument or juggling.
  8. Dec 7, 2014 #7
    Not very many people are good with proofs, especially at the beginning.
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