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Teaching myself math in jail?

  1. Sep 30, 2016 #41
    Eh. I would rather learn the rigor. And you can't rip the hard cover off you have to buy it directly from the store
  2. Sep 30, 2016 #42


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    You might want to read the Amazon reviews of all the books you do consider. I believe the one I suggested does come in a paperback version too.
    Also, if you still can visit a library, preferably a college library, you can actually look over several of these recommended texts.
    And you should also consider an REA Calculus problem solver. REA publishes several different types of problem solver series books, I believe all of them are available via softcover. Any of the REA problem series books could serve as a stand alone text book as well.
  3. Sep 30, 2016 #43


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    As a physical chemist, I'd strongly disagree with that. :smile: One thing the OP might consider is getting a copy of Linus Pauling's General Chemistry. Pros are that it's very thorough and cheap (and paperback), and it's written by one of the greatest chemists who ever lived. Cons are that it's a tad outdated and it might be a little rough if you've never had exposure to calculus or differential equations. That said, the book attempts to lay very clear physical foundations (both in QM and in stat mech/thermo) for chemical behavior. It also describes many of the classic experiments which underpin our knowledge of chemistry and physics, and I feel like a lot of chemistry books nowadays only attempt to make a tenuous connection between experiment and theory (and usually end up being pretty hand-wavy at best).

    One thing I'll point out is that law enforcement types tend to be pretty jumpy about displays of extensive chemistry knowledge, even in non-offenders. I'm not sure how they'd react to someone walking into the county jail with a chemistry book in hand. Best of luck, OP.
  4. Sep 30, 2016 #44


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    If "math" in the topic title had read "chemistry" instead, I would not have recommended the OP to buy math books. (At least, not math books containing material that goes beyond what is needed to understand the foundations of chemistry.)
  5. Oct 4, 2016 #45


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    Not to sound cliche', but Calculus for Dummies really helped me understand not only how to solve calc equations, but why it exists in the first place and how its applied in the real world.
  6. Oct 7, 2016 #46


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    If you can write/recieve mail I may be willing to give you a PO box where you can write questions and I will either post them here or help directly.
  7. Sep 6, 2017 #47
    Hello, all. Got back home on Sunday. I am in the best shape of my life (surprisingly, most people get fat in jail...not too many people work out). I am going to review the books I read. I want to seriously thank you all for your help. Even though I will likely never apply most of what I learned, it forced my brain to work had and kept me sharp and kept me occupied.

    1) Euclidean Geometry by Solomonovich: Excellent first book. Easy yet still rigorous. 100% of theorems are proved and assumes nothing of the reader.

    2) Euclid elements- Hated it. Archaic wording and inferior proofs to Solomonovich. I stopped reading about 10% of the way in.

    3) Trigonometry by Gelfand: Easy. I would skip it because all the trig you'll need is in the calc books.

    4) Pre-calc in a nutshell: non-rigorous but very good nonetheless. Very practical, I recommend this book.

    5) Basic mathematics by Lang: Good but I would skip it because the previous book covers what you need for calc and this book spends too little time on the new topics.

    6) Short calc by lang: Decent. Really good proofs but the rigor stops towards the end and its very incomplete. Scratch it and go with book 7

    7) Elementary Calculus by Jerome Keisler: Best book on the list. Covers a wide range and gives both intuition and rigor..

    8) Apostol 1-2: Mixed feelings. In a way these books discouraged me from wanting to learn more math because it is extremely dense. I found the topics to be arranged strangely and at times it felt too abstract. On the other hand they were very rigorous and forced me to think, which I liked. I also liked the historical context.

    The hardest thing about self-teaching (especially in jail) is you don't have people to bounce ideas off of or ask questions to. I had no internet which made it harder. Since I am a career salesman and investor I will never apply most of this. Between wife, work, exercise, and fun, I can only devote so much time to leisure reading and since my interest spans many different fields besides math, I have decided to only continue with Linear Algebra, Probability theory, and statistics.

    Can anybody help me with a good statistics book?

    Thanks again!
  8. Sep 7, 2017 #48


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    In what country your jail is? I mean, is it normal to have internet connection in jail?
  9. Sep 7, 2017 #49
    Pennsylvania. No internet in any American jail to my knowledge
  10. Sep 7, 2017 #50


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    So how do you write and read this?
  11. Sep 7, 2017 #51

    Charles Link

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    Read his post # 47. He's now home free.
  12. Sep 7, 2017 #52
    I got out on Sunday
  13. Sep 9, 2017 #53
    I am currently reading Statistics by Freedman, Pisani and Purves. It is fantastic. The book teaches how to think about statistical methods and concepts deeply while keeping the mathematical level very accessible. For this reason one will need to read more advanced material later, but a very strong foundation will be there.
  14. Sep 9, 2017 #54
    The book The Universal Solution for Numerical and Literal Equations by McGinnis was written when the author was in prison. If memory serves he was sentenced for some kind of white collar crime, but the book was still highly regarded by some in academia.
  15. Sep 10, 2017 #55
    What were the reactions of other prisoners about you doing rigorous maths in jail ?
  16. Sep 14, 2017 #56
    Confusion. "Are you getting your GED?" Yes differential equations is part of the GED lol
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