How to Read Mathematics

When I was a small kid, my grandfather used to teach me how to read English. I was born in India, so we did not get to reading English till we were 6 or 7. His technique was simple. He would mark portions of a sentence with a vertical mark (in pencil). He told us that we need to pause at the vertical bar, at comma and a pause a bit more at the period.

I wish I had seen this article on How to Read Mathematics, when I was young, since it was one of my favorite subjects. This is a profound statement, a quote in the article, made me take a quick read.

“Reading Mathematics … involves a return to the thinking that went into the writing” (ibid page 16).

Here are a list of things to do (in a nutshell).

  • Don’t miss the big picture
  • Don’t be a passive reader
  • Don’t read too fast
  • Make the idea your own
  • Make sure that you are the intended audience

The Example of Mathematical writing towards the end, is a clear step by step dialog on applying these techniques.

For more math blogs try http://wordpress.com/tag/math/

Published by

Dorai

Building Bots. Dabbling in DataScience. Loving Learning and Thrilled about Teaching.

4 thoughts on “How to Read Mathematics”

  1. This article is now part of a book.

    My new book Rediscovering Mathematics is now finished and available.

    The book is aimed at a general audience and addresses the question of how best to teach and study mathematics. The book attempts to bring the exciting and dynamic world of mathematics to a non-technical audience. With so much focus today on how best to educate the new generation and make mathematics less rote and more interactive, this book is an eye-opening experience for many people who suffered with dull math teachers and curricula.

    The book is listed at MAA or Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Rediscovering-Mathematics-Classroom-Resource-Materials/dp/0883857707/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_3
    https://www.maa.org/ebusppro/Bookstore/ProductDetail/tabid/170/Default.aspx?ProductId=5950933

    1. Shai,
      Congratulations. It is no mean feat to write a book of this type. I will check it out. Let me know how I can help. I can blog about it, tweet about its availability (will do right away). I strongly believe in this cause and the need to increase awareness of how to learn. A book like this will go a long way to help.

      If there is any way, I can help, please let me know.

  2. Went to Amazon and found that it was sold out. Put it on my wish list. I would love to get a version on Kindle. Right now I am in India and buy all my books on Kindle. Anyway, if it is available when I get back to US in mid April, will try to get a copy.

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