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Who are mathematicians?

  1. May 20, 2015 #1
    Mathematics is strikingly beautiful to me. I love the bizarre, abstract truths it conceals. And I've thought about being a mathematician myself...but I don't know if I could be.

    I can grasp abstract concepts with ease, and I know how to ask the right questions in order to learn a concept in its entirety, but I have two major struggles. I can't concentrate well (focusing is really hard for me) and my memory is pretty terrible. A year ago I understood calculus completely. And now I have to teach myself the subject all over again.

    Are there any mathematicians out there who struggle with these things?

    I mean...sometimes I watch Numberfile videos on YouTube, and I'm completely overwhelmed by the amount of things mathematicians seem to be familiar with. As a young person, the thought of trying to learn everything in mathematics reminds me of trying to carry a bundle of laundry to the washer....a few socks fall out along the way. You can't hold onto it all at once.

    Mathematics both stresses me out and brings me more joy than anything else imaginable.

    So who are mathematicians? Are there any mathematicians who have poor memory and concentration? Are they successful?

    Do mathematicians ever get stressed looking at the mountain of concepts they still haven't acquired?

    Do they ever worry that they might end up on the streets because they can't (or don't happen) to discover anything new in mathematics?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 20, 2015 #2
    You remember what you use a lot. I've read similar responses by mathematicians on questions like this that say they can barely even understand what some of their first papers are about because they've forgotten about them.
  4. May 20, 2015 #3


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    I am not a mathematician, but I came across http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/gowers/gowers_VIII_6.pdf which gives the perspectives of several famous mathematicians, and interestingly many did worry about their abilities.

    I will say, however, that non-mathematicians like me (a biologist) do need to know the essential concepts of calculus (which is essentially physics v= d/t, d=vt).
    Last edited: May 20, 2015
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