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What is the point of attempt of solution?

  1. Oct 31, 2013 #1
    I am a physics student self studying. Often, I do 100s of textbook problems at once, and only rely on the answer key to the odd solutions at the back of the book. If I don't' get it, I try to work it out on my own. Sometimes I come across a very difficult question which I have no idea how to attempt. SInce I have no one to ask, I post them on forums. Most of the time I don't' even know how to start. However, after seeing the solution, it all makes sense.

    The problem here is that it takes a long time to post "Attempt at solution's" when i have zero progress Also, when people comment on threads, they don't give a solution--they give hints to guide you (which gets annoying since I am already fed up at this point with zero progress on a problem!). So i guess what i'm saying is that is there a forum or somewhere where I can post a question, and get the FULL solution to it?
    The homework forum is probably the worst place since everyone assumes that it's your homework, and they want to 'help' you with it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 31, 2013 #2


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    Dearly Missed

    If you've made ZERO progress, with several lines of inquiry failing, why should you keep those lines in the dark to PF and get annoyed when somebody gives you a hint you already think failed?

    It is actually up to YOU to detail what you've tried, and failed at.

    We are not mind readers here, so we don't know all you've tried. You must show us that.
  4. Oct 31, 2013 #3
    It is virtually impossible to make zero progress. For example, you can start by identifying the concepts in the problem or some equations. Is it about torque? Motion? Relativity? Draw some picture. Identify previous solved solutions which might help you.

    All of this is some attempt.

    Just giving the full solution is really the worst way to learn. It's like learning how to cook by watching cooking shows. Sure, you might learn some useful thing, but if I put you in a kitchen and ask you to prepare something original, you will most likely fail.
  5. Oct 31, 2013 #4
    I disagree. I self taught myself Algebra, Geometry, Precalculus, Calculus and Multivariable calculus with top marks by just reading the textbook, doing practice problems and looking at the solutions. It seems that unless you have been in a situation where you have to teach yourself, you can't really judge the best way to learn.
  6. Oct 31, 2013 #5


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    Dearly Missed

    Well, STUDYING a full solution written out neatly, pondering each step, mentally checking you understand it before proceeding can very much be of help.

    For most of us who have done math proofs, reading extended, detailed proofs (or "solutions" if you like!) is a critical and indispensable part of normal study habits.
    But, that being said:
    There is no reason whatsoever that PF should be doing this work, this is typically the stuff TEXTBOOKS are made of!
  7. Oct 31, 2013 #6
    I taught myself differential geometry, operator algebras, set theory, Riemann surfaces, Fourier analysis, etc. So I can perfectly judge. And while your method might work for lower-level courses like the ones you mentioned, it WILL fail for higher-level courses.

    And getting top marks doesn't really mean anything to me. Getting top marks is not equivalent to knowing the material in a deep way. Although there certainly is some positive correlation.
  8. Nov 1, 2013 #7
    I got top marks at a prestigious university entrance exam when I was 14. This was mainly due to self motivation and constant pressure from myself. Now I started learning physics since the university is not letting me learn harder maths. The way that I was able to do this, was to learn by looking at hundreds of problems. This also helped me do well in competitions such as USAMO.
    Can you clarify as to what will fail?
    And yes, there is definitely a lot of positive correlation (how can you get top marks without knowing material??)
  9. Nov 1, 2013 #8


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    Staff: Mentor

    And this means you don't have to follow the rules? Afraid not. You have to show your work just like everyone else.
  10. Nov 1, 2013 #9


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    Our policy is that students demonstrate effort and show their work.

    Not at PF. The template is designed to assist the student in organizing a solution. This starts with writing the problem statement, then writing the relevant equations, and variables. If one doesn't know the relevant equations, then perhaps one does not understand the problem, or the relevant background materials. Simply reading others' solutions does not help one learn how to solve problems.

    We respectfully disagree. Homework Helpers and many members do help through guiding the student.
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