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 April 26th, 2014, 08:29 AM #1 Member   Joined: Aug 2012 Posts: 41 Thanks: 0 I suck at university math Hey there, I have a problem: As soon as I get asked to prove something, I get it all wrong. So how does this work? When I was in college, a math teacher once told me "You don't understand math, you get used to it" It's just terribly frustrating to do problems and then have the impression to have only a passing understanding of it. It feels like I am spinning my wheels. I think I got one or two and it took me a ridiculous amount of time to get them. When I read the answer to the proof problems, eventually, it all makes sense, but I can't seem to come up with the answers on my own.
 April 26th, 2014, 02:23 PM #2 Math Team   Joined: Apr 2012 Posts: 1,579 Thanks: 22 Start with some simple proofs and work through them until, as your instructor said, you get used to thinking out a proof strategy. Any special subfield of mathematics that you are interested in? Thanks from Spook
April 27th, 2014, 04:22 AM   #3
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Could you describe your difficulty more precisely, perhaps with examples? You are saying that you have problems with writing proofs, but from this quote:
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Spook When I was in college, a math teacher once told me "You don't understand math, you get used to it"

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Spook It's just terribly frustrating to do problems and then have the impression to have only a passing understanding of it. It feels like I am spinning my wheels. I think I got one or two and it took me a ridiculous amount of time to get them.
It is not clear what kind of problems you mean here. I find many problems in geometry difficult, not only proof-related, but also the ones where I need to calculate or construct something. They often require a nontrivial insight or additional construction, an there is just no general procedure for finding it.

Problems with proofs also fall into two kinds. Some proofs require ingenuity, a nonobvious trick. This skill is acquired only with practice, and some people and better at it than others. On the other hand, I see lots of attempts on math forums that just break the basic rules of proofs. They are similar to writings with many spelling and grammatical errors. If a person has a dictionary and makes an effort to learn the rules, he/she can definitely become better at it.

There are books that teach writing proofs. Please consult this and linked questions on math.stackexcchange.com.

April 27th, 2014, 06:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Spook When I was in college, a math teacher once told me "You don't understand math, you get used to it"
I think this was an impersonal you. It would perhaps be clearer to say:

"One doesn't understand mathematics, one gets used to it".

 May 26th, 2014, 07:53 AM #5 Senior Member   Joined: Jul 2013 From: United Kingdom Posts: 471 Thanks: 40 What problems are you having difficulties with? Can you be more specific? What would you like to prove?

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