Possible to self study math?

In summary, the speaker graduated with a liberal arts degree and is currently working as a programmer. They are now looking to go back to school for an advanced degree in data science/analytics, but they are struggling with their lack of math knowledge. They are seeking advice on how to self-study and improve their math skills, particularly in the areas of calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, probability, and statistics. They are considering using resources like Khan Academy and community college classes to achieve their goal.
  • #1
So, I graduated a few years ago with a liberal arts degree and I'm currently working as a programmer. Although I'm pretty good with the practical application of computer programming, my math is horrendously bad. Now that I'm wanting to go back to school, obtain an advanced degree, and change fields, I'm finding my lack of math knowledge to be a real stumbling block to my professional development.

When I say my math is horrendously bad, I mean shocklingly bad. I can pretty much do just basic algebra (think pre Algebra+1) and that's it. It's not that I was incapable of learning math, it's just that I goofed off in the classes and never learned the concepts. Since math is a field which functions using building blocks of increasingly abstract concepts, that really killed me. The only way I passed math in high school was because the tests were multiple choice and I was clever enough to work backward with each of the solutions.

I'd like to cover the math that's usually covered in an undergraduate CS program, which generally includes Calc I, II, III, linear algebra, differential equations, probability and statics, etc...

I know it's a tall order and I have a loooooong way to go, but does anyone have some advice?
 
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  • #2
That's a lot of material if you consider yourself behind to begin with, but with all the material available online and elsewhere there's no reason not to try self study. Those courses in particular are pretty straightforward, in the sense that you'll basically have to learn and practice a list of concepts in order.

People tend to like khan academy. I'm not into the style, but most people are, and at worst it's like having a teacher you don't really like. If you covered the material on there, alongside textbooks (look up whatever university you attended/plan on attending's course syllabuses for good ones), that would get you pretty far. Biggest thing for me and self study in math is, when I don't understand something I read, to look at a different book's explanation. Especially with courses up to linear algebra, books tend to emphasize one perspective (like geometric, or analytic, or computational) more than others. Usually one explanation will be more intuitive to you, and also, really understanding something in math means understanding it from every perspective.

Hope that made sense. Not sure exactly what kinda advice you're after.
 
  • #3
Thanks, that made sense. I'm not sure exactly what topics I need to study as the field I want to move into (data science/analytics) is emerging and it seems like all of the schools I'm looking at have vastly different requirements. I'll check out Khan Academy.
 
  • #4
laviedevote said:
Thanks, that made sense. I'm not sure exactly what topics I need to study as the field I want to move into (data science/analytics) is emerging and it seems like all of the schools I'm looking at have vastly different requirements. I'll check out Khan Academy.
As far as I understand, most people working in data science are mathematicians. But maybe I only know the mathematicians and there's a place for people in other areas. I have half a toe in some data science-y stuff, though, and have had to teach myself a lot that wasn't covered in an undergrad math degree. Either way, like you said most understand computer science majors are required to take at least up to linear algebra, so you might as well try that. That's definitely not impossible to teach yourself if you're interested in it. And you might've already considered this, but community college classes might be a good cheap way to keep yourself accountable for getting through the material. Data science is super rad, so good luck!
 
  • #5


Yes, it is definitely possible to self-study math. Many successful mathematicians and scientists have taught themselves advanced mathematics through self-study. However, it is important to have a structured and disciplined approach in order to effectively learn and understand the concepts.

Firstly, I would recommend starting with a thorough review of the basics such as pre-algebra and algebra. This will help build a solid foundation for the more advanced concepts. There are many online resources and textbooks available for self-study in these areas.

Next, I would suggest focusing on one topic at a time and working through it systematically. This could include watching online lectures, working through practice problems, and seeking help from online communities or tutors when needed.

It is also important to practice regularly and consistently. Math is a subject that requires practice to truly understand and retain the concepts. Set aside specific study times and stick to a schedule to ensure you are making progress.

Additionally, I would recommend seeking out online resources such as Khan Academy, MIT OpenCourseWare, and other online courses that offer free access to lectures, practice problems, and other materials.

Finally, don't be discouraged by the amount of work ahead of you. Learning math takes time and effort, but with dedication and a structured approach, it is definitely possible to improve your math skills and achieve your goals. Good luck!
 

What is self-study in math?

Self-study in math refers to the practice of learning and understanding mathematical concepts on your own, without the guidance of a teacher or formal classroom setting.

Is it possible to self-study math?

Yes, it is possible to self-study math. With the abundance of online resources, textbooks, and practice problems available, one can effectively learn and understand math concepts through self-study.

What are the benefits of self-studying math?

Self-studying math allows for flexibility in learning at one's own pace and focusing on specific areas of interest. It also promotes independence and critical thinking skills.

What are the challenges of self-studying math?

The main challenge of self-studying math is staying motivated and disciplined without the structure and guidance of a teacher. It can also be difficult to find reliable resources and feedback on understanding concepts.

How can one effectively self-study math?

To effectively self-study math, it is important to set goals, create a schedule, and stick to it. It is also helpful to find a study group or online community for support and to seek out resources and practice problems to strengthen understanding.

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