My Trig Teachers Name Was Mr. Angle But That Didn't Make Him A Good Teacher.
August 13, 2012 12:20 PM   Subscribe

My math skills are no where near where I'd like them to be. Can you recommend a self-paced math learning site? Pretty much any branch of math can apply.

Due to some amazingly awful teachers at some key points in my life Math and I have been in a state of cold war for decades. I'd really like for that not to be the case any more.

Ideally I'm looking for something like Project Euler or Ruby Koans are for programming. That is: A site with increasingly difficult concrete problems that need solving, not just naked formulae. Substantially prefer hands on/reading over watching videos/lectures (Khan Academy hasn't really resonated with me).

As I mentioned pretty much any branch of math is fine. Algebra, trigonometry, calculus, differential equations, statistics, you name it, I'd like to be better at it.

High school level and above.
posted by Ookseer to Education (7 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Goodwill is always a good source for used textbooks, if you don't mind lugging a book around. Last time I was at my local one, they had everything from Arithmetic to Linear Algebra. And math textbooks really don't go out of date that much, it's not like we adopted a new numbering system in 2006 or something.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:25 PM on August 13, 2012

I know you mentioned sites but if you're willing to work your way through a textbook, Forgotten Algebra is great. There's also one called Forgotten Calculus but I haven't made it that far in catch-up math yet.
posted by jabes at 12:28 PM on August 13, 2012

Khan has an AMAZING practice/interactive section - have you tried it lately?
posted by bensherman at 1:09 PM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

If you are looking to have fun with math, try some number theory problems. Search for "math olympiad" will yield problem collections such as these: Personally, I find application of math and mathematical thinking more enjoyable than working your way through a textbook. You can always use as a reference resource.
posted by curiousZ at 1:16 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

There are a bunch of online textbooks at, all created by educators. On that page, you'll find algebra, geometry, trig, calculus, probability, and statistics. They're working on adding interactive items and exercises, but the books are a great start.

In my opinion, the gold standard in math books is Saxon math. The books are pretty expensive, though, so I'd strongly recommend seeing if your library has them so you can preview them. (Here in San Francisco, I was able to check them out using Link+, a kind of interlibrary loan).

And while you're checking your library, just browse the math shelf. My library has tons of different math books - Algebra Demystified, Trigonometry for the Utterly Confused, and so on. See which ones click for you.

Just about any textbook should give you loads of problems to solve - just make sure there are answers in the back so you can check your work. (Lots of student-oriented textbooks give answers for the odd-numbered problems, at least.) I've had great luck buying math textbooks from library book sales; as spinifex23 mentioned, Goodwill or other thrift stores can be great sources of cheap textbooks. I've gotten lots for $1 or $2 each. Along those lines, there are lots of pretty cheap books online - here's a search at ABE Books for "calculus".

Finally, please go grab Calculus Made Easy over at Project Gutenberg.

I'm sorry these are mostly book recommendations instead of online, but in my experience, textbooks are the best source for lots of exercises.
posted by kristi at 5:28 PM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would try any one of the many book-length collections of Martin Gardner's column, "Mathematical Games," which ran in Scientific American from 1956 to 1981. This isn't school math -- it's much better. And anyway, you hated school math. If you want to learn about mathematics the way three generations of young mathematicians did, from one of the most gifted scientific expositors who ever lived, Gardner is your guy.
posted by escabeche at 5:59 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just to be clear... I understand you don't like the video format for Khan Academy.. but I just want to make sure you realize it has a very well executed hands on problem solving section as well. It's not always clear on the front of their web site that that section exists because it's so video focused.
posted by j03 at 9:34 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

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