# When and how did math click for you?

I was just wondering how old you were, and what got you to finally understand math?

## Answers and Replies

24 and still dont know math. I'm Really eager to learn now! I'm sure I could pay attention, I'm sure I'm sure!

Why do you ask this? are you having some issues in math?

micromass
Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
I am 24 and I still don't understand math

There's no epiphany or revelation where it all just starts making sense. It's a slow and painful uphill climb, usually with no end.

Some people enjoy hiking though.

drizzle
Gold Member
I was just wondering how old you were, and what got you to finally understand math?

:uhh:

I'm 24 years old born in 1988 24-1-9-8-8= -2. I was born on the 25th -2+25=23
For those of you that have seen that Jim Carry movie

Understand maths? Well I don't understand what you mean.
I understood how addition of numbers works when I was a kid of 5; I don't still understand how Laplace Transforms work.

I just mean, when did you start realizing you could actually do math, and possibly do well at it?

i can do arithmetic, that is to say the application of known and given algorithms to solve numerical and symbolic problems, up to maybe basic complex analysis.

math, the ability to draw new insights from symbolic logic, is extremely hard.

I just mean, when did you start realizing you could actually do math, and possibly do well at it?
There was a guy who used to post here named Waht who had the kind of breakthrough you're talking about. For years he couldn't stand math and it just confused him. Then something happened to his way of thinking about it in high school and over the course of a few weeks he suddenly "got" it and started to appreciate what it was all about. It had "clicked". After that he enjoyed it.

Sometime in very very childhood. I asked my dad many questions about how stuff worked, and he always put the answer in mathematical terms simple enough for me to understand, then he would give me some really interesting practical problems for me to figure out using my new knowledge.

Math has clicked for me more than once.

First time I can remember was after learning division in elementary school, later that day my dad taught me binary. Realizing arithmetic worked in binary was an amazing discovery for me; realizing counting made sense in a new way, also had a huge impact on me.

Second time I can remember was high school I suppose. I'm not exactly sure what I was studying... Maybe geometry, maybe even calculus... but I know I understood a^2+b^2=c^2 in a vague algebraic way, and I knew how I was supposed to apply it to triangles, but when someone actually drew the picture of a right triangle and each side "squared" and explained how Pythagoras came up with the equation, it was a pretty amazing moment. Definitely "clicked."

I would say that it certainly didn't click in high school. It wasn't until I entered college as a biotechnology major that I became frustrated with the lack of an axiomatic presentation of this route into science, thus I realized physics was the science for me (it's the necessary foundations imo..)

It was upon this realization that physics is what I wanted and what I needed to study that I came to realize the importance of math. I sort of define physics to be the application of math to the scientific method. Even in my very early days I was forced to take notice how math formed the basis of physics (and thus to me it formed the basis of science.)

After I took this notice I began studying math in a detail which I had never before undertook. I read an algebra and then a precalculus book cover to cover (none of my foundations were solid so I had to work my way up to calculus.) It was at THIS particular time, reading textbooks cover to cover that math "clicked" to me in the sense that I think you are referring. I simply had never given math this sort of time or comprehensive a treatment. An unintentional side effect was that I found math to be infinitely entertaining in the process :D

When I was in HS, I called up the prettiest girl in the class to ask if we could study together. That's when it clicked for me.

lisab
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I took Geometry much later than most students (at a community college when I was ~20). The proofs and just general beauty of it blew my mind. I don't think that would have happened if I had taken it at 14 or 15, like most kids.

Gold Member
Even though my understanding increases as I study more mathematics, the more I study it, the less I seem to understand with respect to the whole picture, if that makes sense. In other words, I feel like I keep opening "doors of new understanding", but the new room I'm looking at is 3 times bigger than the previous room.

We just started Rings and Fields in my abstract algebra course. My brain is giving me the finger.

turbo
Gold Member
When I was about 3 or 4, I started physically grouping things. Buttons, checkers, rocks... anything. I liked the symmetry of numbers like 4 and 16, though I didn't know why at the time, nor did I have any way to even express 16, then. I can't say I "got" any real math 'way back then, but I was eager to get to go to school and learn.

There was a guy who used to post here named Waht who had the kind of breakthrough you're talking about. For years he couldn't stand math and it just confused him. Then something happened to his way of thinking about it in high school and over the course of a few weeks he suddenly "got" it and started to appreciate what it was all about. It had "clicked". After that he enjoyed it.

That's what I'm talking about, I'm kind of going through the same thing. I don't always know how to get the idea of what I am trying to say across.

That's what I'm talking about, I'm kind of going through the same thing. I don't always know how to get the idea of what I am trying to say across.
I don't think this happens to everyone. Most people understand in small increments, just as it's presented to them. Others are increasingly confused in small increments as it's presented to them. Most of the latter are doomed, but in rare cases a thresh hold is crossed and it all suddenly starts to make greater sense.

I'm currently working on that....

If I may speculate for a moment, however, I will state that, in order to be successful at mathematics in this modern era, it matters less on how well you can do computational problems, and more so on your ability to solve abstract problems and think in abstract ways. It is more rewarding, and more beneficial for the field and for its occasional real-word applications, for new, out of the box thinking to be supported and striven for.

With the current high school mathematics curriculum, they focus less on the latter, and more on the former, largely giving you the skills to solve various forms of problems in various ways, and not much more than that. It isn't until you get into college that true mathematical thinking is stressed. Making a transition from thinking computationally to abstractly is by no means an easy task, and quite possibly the moment that mathematics "clicks" for certain individuals is invariably the moment in which they have developed the skill of thinking mathematically.

[/speculation]

At the moment I'm just happy to understand any math :)

BobG
Homework Helper
I was pretty much raised with numbers, so I can't remember a time when math didn't click. It almost always just made something make even more sense (those little arithmetic short cuts you first memorized or figured out yourself without really knowing why they worked).

For example, on road trips, our family played a game called "Sevens". Each person counts around the "circle" (1, 2, 3, etc), except if the number ends in 7 or is a multiple of 7, the person has to clap instead of saying the number.

The key series was when you reached the 7000's. You can't get 5 to 8 people to all count 1000 straight claps correctly. Until you, being the oldest, realize you don't have to. As soon as you hit 7000, you can figure out exactly how many times you personally have to clap and who is going to be the person to say "8000". So you get to the point where the older kids are using some sort of strategy besides counting and the youngest develop their first strategy - "There's 6 people (or however many were playing), so it's probably not going to be me that has to say 8000. I'll just keep clapping until someone says 8000. If I'm the person that 8000 winds up on, so be it, but I don't want to be the one that says 8000 early". And, finally, the group successfully gets to 8000 and panic hits - "I never even thought about what the first multiple of 7's in the 8000's! Doh!" But, with a little thought, you realize 7000 should have started the series over if we hadn't been doing all of that clapping, so 8001 is the same as 1001, and is the first multiple of 7 and it's on you go from there.

And, eventually, every single kid in the car is using some arithmetic strategy and the game loses its point. You have a few hold outs that think we should go for the 70,000's, but seriously - it takes approximately 15 minutes for every 1000 - who wants to count for 20+ straight hours?! (Or clap for 2 and 1/2 straight hours when you finally do reach the 70,000's.)

You finally realize the game was meant to improve your number skills and at some point, you all have just outgrown the game.

So, in my family, it would have been hard to imagine not being good with numbers - even harder than to imagine not being good at bowling (the other family past time).

(We played this years later at a family reunion and I was amazed how inept our spouses and relatives were at this game. They couldn't get out of the two digit numbers without making a mistake, let alone get into three digit numbers.)

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I tried it with my wife just for fun, but I couldn't get out of the one digit numbers.

I remember sitting in my Pre-Calculus class my senior year of high school and thinking to myself "what a wonderful course". Ever since then, my general appreciation for learning has increased significantly and I now tend to view learning opportunities as a chance to grow, no matter the subject matter. That being said, I am most fond of math and science.

people — I mean the average person, the great majority of people, the enormous majority of people — are woefully, pitifully, absolutely ignorant of the science of the world that they live in, and they can stay that way … And an interesting question of the relation of science to modern society is just that — why is it possible for people to stay so woefully ignorant and yet reasonably happy in modern society when so much knowledge is unavailable to them? - Richard Feynman

Dr. Feynman really points out the correlation between understanding science and appreciating the world around us.

As long as you have the motivation and the determination, any course can be an amazing experience.

some math clicks for me, other math I have to work hard to understand it

when I started out learning about math, I was apparently "good" at it, so I liked it, because it made me feel smart. Though of course that was in like elementary school, but math never really got any harder until high school.

Later on I would read stuff about what people thought of math, and I would hear that math is "beautiful" and I was very confused by this at first. So I started trying really hard to see the beauty in math. And it's definitely not beautiful like a pretty girl is beautiful, but rather I think I've started to think it's beautiful in the sense that it all *works*.

That's the other thing about math, is that whenever I encounter something that throws me for a loop, I keep myself from getting too frustrated by remembering "it all follows the rules, it's not being made up, it's not something that is impossible to understand"

I just need to follow the rules, and I will get it. Math is just based on rules, so if I follow the rules... I can follow the math.

So like someone else said, I think. Sometimes it clicks, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, just keep working at it. If it was impossible to understand, then it wouldn't be math ^^

It had to be age 25, in graduate school. I had a very profound thing happen. Was taking Advanced Engineering Mathematics that semester. Studied furiously, all the time, desperately trying to "get it." One Sunday afternoon while working on problems and particular derivation, my view of the problem "crystallized" (for lack of a better term) and I immediately (like, literally flash) saw the solution path. It was just so blatantly obvious now, and really spooky. It made me realize that the potential for intelligence is within even dummies like me and, with sufficient effort, your brain will change.

Later on I would read stuff about what people thought of math, and I would hear that math is "beautiful" and I was very confused by this at first. So I started trying really hard to see the beauty in math. And it's definitely not beautiful like a pretty girl is beautiful, but rather I think I've started to think it's beautiful in the sense that it all *works*.

The beauty that I see in maths is that it is essentially the language of the Universe.

Each peice clicked separately.

Cartesian functions, algebra, trig, calculus, diff eq, linear spaces, matrix math, vector calc, complex analysis, variational calc, sturm-Louisville; I still remember the exact moment and way in which all these things clicked one by one.

it clicked for me when I was 16-17, after I finally understood algebra. Since then I've been able to understand pretty much everything in math, if I put my mind to it.

However, I'm kind of overworked at university... I just started this year, and we're going through engineering math at a pace 5 times faster than High School.. crazy

The more I could relate the math to actual applications - the more it clicked. So Geometry - which when initially studied - is very tactile, I got that pretty early. Calculus - not until I was studying physics and some engineering that required that level of understanding - etc.

If you are struggling with math - go look for some good application examples. It is more rewarding to use math to predict a systems behavior - than to just do math problems over and over.....

Although it's been said, I have yet to wake up and think 'so that's how that math thing works'

however, I find every time I finish a year and have a summer break, I find upon my return what was once the shaky structure is now embedded in the foundation from which to further build. That said, I probably couldn't solve most of the stuff I was doing at the end of the previous semester, but the underlying rules and structure seem natural as opposed to confusing or contradictory.

Math has clicked for me more than once.

First time I can remember was after learning division in elementary school, later that day my dad taught me binary. Realizing arithmetic worked in binary was an amazing discovery for me; realizing counting made sense in a new way, also had a huge impact on me.

I know that one (rough) definition of binary is something that deals with two, but I think Gale is talking about something beyond that definition when she speaks of binary.

What does binary mean in mathematics beyond the definition I already stated above? Gale, what does it mean when you say you realized arithmetic worked in binary?

Mentalist
When I was in HS, I called up the prettiest girl in the class to ask if we could study together. That's when it clicked for me.

Lies...

I understand math in the sense of completing problems and applying it to some situations. But mostly, I feign understanding to myself in the hopes that one day it will 'click'.

wukunlin
Gold Member
when i was 4 and my mother commented how i could write the number "2" calligraphically with a pencil all the time

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus