So, I finished my undergrad with a degree in applied mathematics, but when reading some graduate lev

Kaeden Hoffman

Kaeden Hoffman

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So, I finished my undergrad with a degree in applied mathematics, but when reading some graduate level texts and/or papers, I often find myself struggling. I eventually get there, but I often feel like I lack the intuition necessary to be able to come up with concepts on my own. I feel like I'm just missing some pivotal step in the journey to mathematical maturity.
Does anyone have any advice?
PS: If this means anything at all, as I was not a mathematics major, I did not take analysis or abstract algebra.

Answer & Explanation



Beginner2022-07-05Added 11 answers

In general, I have three broad advice:

1) Consistency
Keep doing it and do it often. Being good at something is about doing it a lot over a long period of time.

2) Repetition
Keep repeating the same thing. E.g. I used to be really bad at baking scones. Every time I failed, I would try to figure out why I failed and experiment with fixes. After 7 batches of sad looking squashed scones, I fixed all my mistakes and is now able to consistently bake nice looking scones!

3) Don't Delve on Specific Details
In my humble opinion, the biggest thing that has been holding me back from all my activities (mathematics or otherwise) was my inability to move ahead. I tend to get stuck trying to solve specific problems.
I find that it is much better to move on and make as much progress as possible, then come back to the stuck part later to try at it again. If I am unable to resolve it, I would move on again and then come back later. E.g. if you get stuck at a part of the paper, it might help to move on and read the rest of the paper. Or even put this paper aside and read another one.

A mathematics specific advice: it helps a great deal if you have supervision and/or feedback from a professor.


Beginner2022-07-06Added 2 answers

Not having a foundation in proofs based classes (like analysis and abstract algebra) is a drawback because they teach you the basic tools/arguments/definitions typically used to prove other things in higher math. How important is all of this? It depends in part on what your career goals are. If you want to do mostly research or work in academics, esp at a good institution, then it will probably be important that you improve your background, esp given your comments about your past experiences trying to learn upper-level material. If you work in industry, maybe it isn't important. In my case, where I want to work in statistics in the private sector, I got to know other people already working in the field, and found that many of them did not have nor did they really need many of the upper level math grad courses. Maybe you can similarly survey people in your field. If you do need to remedy your background, consider a Master's program, where you can take some of these courses, en route to your PhD or whatever job you plan to go into. It is not so easy to get a good job with just a BS in math, so this is probably not a bad route for you anyhow. Good Luck

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