Switching to Math -- "If you are the 50th best student in the class"...

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  • Thread starter crastinus
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I have discovered that, even when doing math problems, I don't actually think in math.

I was just practicing for fun on Alcumus. The question was this: "If you are the 50th best student in the class and also the 50th worst student in the class, how many students are in the class?"

The answer is easy and obvious, but here's the thing: I looked at their solution, and it went in a direction that I just do not naturally go. The solution says: "You are better than 49 other people. You are worse then 49 other people. The number of people in the class must then be: 49 + 49 + 1 = 99."

A simple example, yes, but now that I think about it I just don't instinctively think in equations and numbers like that. I find that even doing tons of problems doesn't help as much as one would think, although it is good and necessary.

What are some ways to switching one's natural thought process to one that is more "math"?
 

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  • #2
scottdave
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The more practice problems you do, it should come easier. That is my suggestion. So what was your approach? How was it different from the given solution?
 
  • #3
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"If you are the 50th best student in the class and also the 50th worst student in the class, how many students are in the class?"
This should suggest that you are right in the middle of the class, which leads you to the solution you posted.
 
  • #4
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There will be problems of sufficient complexity that you can't solve in a flash of instinct. Then you have to do maths.

The answer is then: find harder problems that force you to "do the math".
 

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