Math for the impatient?
January 21, 2007 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Relearning math...

I would like to find an intuitive, multimedia product that would clearly explain math concepts from algebra all the way to calc and beyond. I guess I am a visual learner, so lots of pretty graphs and interactive visualizations would be the bomb.
posted by toastchee to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Don't know if this will help, but perhaps a tutor? Someone who is good at explaining things and will let you ask as many questions as you need?

Also these laminated do-hickeys are very handy and concise.
posted by parallax7d at 3:44 PM on January 21, 2007

Seconding the tutor.

After looking for a tutor in November, I ended up finding a small group of interested co-conspirators and a willing PhD topologist. We've had two meetings so far that have vastly broadened my understanding of matrices and linear algebra, and everyone seems thrilled with the experience. We have 2-3 hour meetings once a week, food and whiteboard provided. I'm happy because I'm learning something new and Mr. Topologist is happy because he's got a group to think & explore with.
posted by migurski at 4:07 PM on January 21, 2007

parallax7d and his laminated do-hickey get a vote from me. I have a pile in my briefcase that I peruse when I am waiting for an appointment, airplane, late spouse. They're graphical, dense, organized and well partitioned topically.

Nothing beats doing problems. If you can get a book of problems to solve, you'll get better fast, in any area you choose.

You sound like you're looking for something to do alone, but the tutor idea (or other meetup) can be effective if you get a crew in the same general area as you. It's hard to find one person who knows a huge swath of math, but a group has diversity, offset by variable personalities.

There is an incalculable amount (I made a joke!) of math on the internets. Too many to recommend, almost.

Math Atlas


Have fun!

If you want to read fun math by original authors in bite sized chunks....

Newman's World of Mathematics
posted by FauxScot at 5:11 PM on January 21, 2007

There is a series called "Keys To" (Algebra, Percents, Decimals, Fractions). We (the hubby and I) don't know how far this series goes, but it explains it nicely. Try looking on-line or a teaching supply store. It is easy to understand and follow.
posted by 6:1 at 6:05 PM on January 21, 2007

Your title, Math for the impatient, is somewhat at odds with your purpose, which is to learn math. Speaking as a mathematician, I can tell you that the quickest, easiest way to learn math is to just pick up a book and do all the problems in it. Fancy pictures and graphics and multimedia stuff will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling that you understand things, but you can't internalize it unless you've done it for yourself.
posted by number9dream at 9:56 PM on January 21, 2007

I'm really enjoying The Joy of Thinking. It attempts to establish the foundations for thinking mathematically, while being a survey of fun math stuff. I don't think it covers algebra, per se, but I think it might be a really good place to start.

I haven't yet explored the textbook by the same people, or its accompanying CD-ROM that promises interactive demos.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:03 PM on January 21, 2007

I don't think there is any one product, whether it be book or cd that deeply explains all of math. You could try the Idiot's Guide book series.
posted by JJ86 at 5:35 AM on January 22, 2007

In a similar situation, I've recently signed up with the Open University. For my course fees I get a heap of books, access to tutorials, exercises, and if I do all the assessment, some university credit. The tutor explained to us all that mathematics is not a spectator sport: you can't get good at it by reading and watching, you actually have to participate. It's through doing the exercises that it gets stuck in your head.

I don't know where you are, but expect it's in the US. As far as I know, OU courses are available but more expensive to those outside of the UK. But you might be able to find an institution in the US which has similar aims and facilities: a load of material to read and digest, a set of questions and exercises to complete, and access to someone who can help answer those questions.
posted by handee at 5:58 AM on January 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

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