Online mathematics
February 19, 2012 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Which are the best online courses for studying algebra and progressing up to trig, calculus, and differentials?

Should I look into places like Khan Academy, MIT Open Courseware, etc? Does a community like Reddit have study groups? What other places should I look and and why? Quality is more important than whether it's free or cheap, and it needs to be something I can do strictly at home. I'd also like to know who offers options for tutoring, grading, assistance, etc. I'm pretty self-motivated and have reasons to learn this stuff.. I just need to know where to go.
posted by crapmatic to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I think Khan Academy would be a very good start. It has the lectures and the tools to evaluate yourself. A couple of universities have uploaded their material to YouTube but IMO they aren't as digestible as Khan Academy's.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:54 AM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've been using the practice quizzes on Khan academy and I've found them to be a good way to learn the type of math you're looking to learn.

I've also used the MIT option to help with learning linear algebra, i found it good but less assessable than the Khan academy offerings.
posted by Harpocrates at 8:55 AM on February 19, 2012

Seconding Khan Academy - their 'practice' section has a knowledge tree that takes you from single digit addition right up to calculus and beyond.

I've used MIT's linear algebra course, which is very well taught, but not sure what else is there.

I'd recommend starting with Khan and moving beyond once you're more fluent.
posted by bullox at 9:01 AM on February 19, 2012

I've used Khan for this and had pretty good success. I also recommend the "demystified" series of books for practice problems. I bought them all from pre-algebra to pre-calc and they were all excellent. "Algebra demystified" woke up all that math I'd forgotten completely and prepared me well.
posted by fake at 9:29 AM on February 19, 2012

To forestall any confusion, grade-school algebra and linear algebra (not to mention abstract algebra) are different subjects.
posted by Nomyte at 10:29 AM on February 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Khan Academy is recommended so often because it's great, especially for people who need to work up from basic to more advanced material like you.

The one downside is that, IMHO, if you want to master the material, Khan Academy doesn't go as in-depth as you need. You need harder examples, and more examples, and certainly more practice.

I would watch the Khan Academy video, and then read the corresponding chapter in a good physical textbook, doing the exercise in the back until I was comfortable.

As far as tutoring goes, if you're near a university, you should look at the website of the math department to see if they list tutors. You might have to try a couple until you find the best fit, but it's generally affordable and you get people who (usually) know what they're doing.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:15 AM on February 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

MIT's offerings are good, if you have a solid grounding in the precursor mathematics. Their offerings, I think, tend to assume more knowledge, than does Khan Academy's. Depending on your skill level/knowledge/aptitude for math, this is either a good thing or a bad thing.

Why not try each of them and see which suits you more?
posted by dfriedman at 11:22 AM on February 19, 2012

I'm doing the same thing, and really love Khan Academy.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:43 AM on February 19, 2012

I've used MIT's linear algebra course, which is very well taught, but not sure what else is there.

I'm going through MIT's Multivariable Calculus course now, and that's also good.
posted by empath at 12:04 PM on February 19, 2012

One thing I discovered from looking at an Actual Calculus Exam, though, is that you really, really need to do some exercises, because while I get the theory, I don't have a clue how to actually work the problems.
posted by empath at 12:05 PM on February 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you want something that includes more challenging work, try The Art Of Problem Solving. Their site has books & classes.
posted by CaptainCaseous at 7:30 PM on February 19, 2012

The Art of Problem Solving contains contest problems, which are strikingly more similar to the math that mathematicians do, as opposed to the math that engineers do.

It's strange, because Khan Academy's current direction of development seems to be getting better and better metrics for testing how much people who use it learn. The online exercises are a very different animal from the videos. So I second the suggestion that you get a textbook and do its problems, too.
posted by curuinor at 9:18 AM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure that MIT's most basic course is calculus - at least that's the most basic course available to undergrads. I took 18.02 (multivariable calculus, but MIT's own version) as a freshman and really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed 18.03 (differential equations, included some linear algebra when I took it).
posted by Cygnet at 9:38 AM on February 20, 2012

Check out the Algebra topic page on ShowMe. A big online community with lots of high quality user generated content!
posted by remixnine at 8:00 PM on February 20, 2012

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