Start Self-Education in Math/Physics - Advice Needed

  • Thread starter cjc_75
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In summary, this person is looking for advice and recommendations on how to learn math and physics on their own. They have been out of school for 14 years and have a lack of foundational knowledge. They suggest starting with a book called "Precalculus Mathematics in a Nutshell" and then moving onto a calculus textbook. They also suggest checking their work against a solution key or asking questions in the forums.
  • #1
cjc_75
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Hello all!

I've been browsing this site for a bit now, and this is my first offical post. I've been looking around at quite a few math/physics forums lately and this one seemed to grab my attention. Sadly, my first post is a "help me" type.

Baisically, I'm looking for a few pointers on where to get my self-education started gaining knowledge in math/physics. I was lured away right after high school by a fantastic job and now, I'm kicking myself for it. I don't "need" the knowledge, but I want it for my own pride.

My main issue is time, It's impossible to get into regular classes (even nights).So, essentialy I want to teach myself, challenge credits, and then finally take whatever time off is needed to get my degree(s).

The problem I ran into after I bought books on calculus/chemistry/physics was my basic knowledge is lacking/forgotten ( I've been out of H.S. for 14 years~). Everything seemed so intertwined, I did'nt know the best course of action, and the best way to approach it. It all seems easy enough, but I don't want to miss an important step somewhere.Do I hit Trig first...or algebra...limits...etc. etc?

Anyone have any recommendations? And...Thank you in advance :smile:
 
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  • #2
Hello!

I am attempting almost the exact same thing you describe, namely self-learning math and physics in my mid-thirties. It sounds like you are starting from nearly the same place I did, so perhaps I can offer a few tips.

If it really has been 14 years since you studied math, the first thing you should do is get yourself a copy of "Precalculus Mathematics in a Nutshell" by George F. Simmons. I picked up a copy for seven bucks at my local Barnes and Noble, and it's a gem: everything you need to know about geometry, algebra, and trigonometry in 120 short, sweet pages. You can review all of the material in this book in a week and it will put you on a solid foundation for learning calculus.

Then, get a good calculus textbook and go from there. A good one is "Essential Calculus With Applications" by Richard A. Silverman, but there are many others, I am sure you can get more recommendations by searching the forum. Just one thing, and this is important: make sure to work through all of the problem sets and check your answers, either against the answer key in the back of the book, or by asking questions in the homework help section of this forum. Don't ever let yourself believe that you have "learned" math or physics unless you can apply your knowledge to solve problems. I know for myself I need to work through a dozen or more problems for every chapter before I truly begin to understand the material.
 
  • #3
One more thing: a good way to construct a logical course of study for yourself is to review college catalogs to see what sort of courses are required of physics majors, and in what order. When I did this, I found that most undergraduate programs offer the same basic course of study. Follow it, and you won't need to reinvent the wheel.

http://www.yale.edu/yalecollege/publications/ycps/chapter_iv/physics.html

http://student.mit.edu/catalog/index.cgi

http://pr.caltech.edu/catalog/
 
  • #4
Thanks for the excellent reply! I had'nt thought of looking at college and university programs in that sense.

I have'nt "studied" math in 14 years, but I do use the (very) basics every day. I guess it's safe to say the most complicated thing I use is Snell's Law...if that gives you any idea :biggrin: I have a long row to hoe!
 
  • #5
Good luck! Here's something else you might find helpful:
http://ocw.mit.edu/index.html

Be sure to come back and let us know how you are doing.
 

Related to Start Self-Education in Math/Physics - Advice Needed

1. How can I start self-education in math and physics?

The first step in starting self-education in math and physics is to establish a strong foundation in basic math skills, such as algebra and geometry. This will provide a solid framework for understanding more complex concepts. Next, familiarize yourself with the fundamental principles and equations in physics, such as Newton's laws of motion and the laws of thermodynamics. It is also important to practice regularly and seek out additional resources, such as textbooks, online tutorials, and practice problems.

2. What resources are available for self-education in math and physics?

There are many resources available for self-education in math and physics, including textbooks, online courses, videos, and practice problems. You can also utilize online forums and discussion groups to connect with other self-learners and ask for advice or clarification on difficult concepts.

3. How can I stay motivated while self-educating in math and physics?

One way to stay motivated is to set specific goals for yourself, such as completing a certain number of practice problems or mastering a particular concept. It can also be helpful to find a study partner or join a study group to keep yourself accountable and motivated. Additionally, try to find real-world applications for the concepts you are learning to see the practical value of your self-education.

4. What are some common challenges in self-educating in math and physics?

Some common challenges in self-educating in math and physics include staying motivated, understanding complex concepts, and finding time for regular practice and study. It is important to be patient with yourself and seek help from others when needed. Additionally, breaking down difficult concepts into smaller, more manageable pieces can make them easier to understand.

5. How can I gauge my progress in self-education in math and physics?

One way to gauge your progress is to regularly assess your understanding through practice problems and quizzes. You can also track your progress by setting goals and measuring how many concepts or problems you have mastered. Another way to gauge progress is to seek feedback from others, such as a tutor or study partner, to identify areas where you may need to improve.

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