Math Comprehension Made Easy

June 16, 2012

Want to dive into analytics as a data scientist? Get started with Stonehill College‘s “How to Read Mathematics.” The well-structured article by Shai Simonson and Fernando Gouvea details the reading protocol that will allow anyone to get the most out of reading mathematical explanations as opposed to, say, reading poetry or fiction. The authors explain:

“Students need to learn how to read mathematics, in the same way they learn how to read a novel or a poem, listen to music, or view a painting. . . . Mathematical ideas are by nature precise and well defined, so that a precise description is possible in a very short space.  Both a mathematics article and a novel are telling a story and developing complex ideas, but a math article does the job with a tiny fraction of the words and symbols of those used in a novel. “

The article goes on to explain common mistakes math readers make, such as missing the big picture for the details, reading passively, and reading too fast. A wealth of tips for understanding math texts follows, including examples. Much of this is information I knew, but had trouble articulating when my son was in pre-calc. How I wish I had had this piece then!

For anyone looking at a math-heavy field like data analytics, this article is a must-read.

Cynthia Murrell, June 16, 2012

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One Response to “Math Comprehension Made Easy”

  1. How to Read Mathematics « Another Word For It on June 17th, 2012 4:30 pm

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