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What do you do when you are stuck?

  1. Mar 9, 2008 #1

    i'm an undergrad, and a beginner in maths.

    i don't really know how other people study math ( i really dont since i haven't really asked anyone ), but typically when you see a new theorem, you try to prove it, right? now, i'm not talking about being able to correctly write down the proof in perfect detail, but you try to get the main idea, and write down how the proof might go, and then try to understand what the result would imply... (right?)

    now, there are theorems that you "get" soon enough, but some have pretty original ideas and they take a while to get. my question is, if you are stuck - let's say for 3+ hours - trying to sketch the proof of the new theorem, what do you do?

    do you just read the proof given? or do you put it away for a while to think about it again later?

    i really don't know what to do when i'm stuck.
    i'm studying all alone, btw.

    thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 9, 2008 #2
    Go away and leave it alone. You'll find that an idea will come to you when you least expect it, or when you come back to it, you'll be fresh. Staying too long on one problem can lead you to get into confused knots.

    I just have to take my own advice now :lol:
  4. Mar 9, 2008 #3
    bouncing ideas off classmates helps a lot too
  5. Mar 9, 2008 #4
    thanks for the input! :)

    well one thing i did realize is that often the reason i was stuck was because i failed to notice something more basic. of course my experience is quite limited so i dunno if this is worth mentioning in a more advanced setting... ( more likely that it is general knowledge ... *nervous chuckle* ) so sometimes if i just go back and try to find out what i missed, things work themselves out...
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