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April 10th, 2015, 12:32 PM  #1 
Newbie Joined: Apr 2015 From: USA Posts: 1 Thanks: 0  need help to stop getting lost with maths formulas
A common problem I have is i am reading a book. It is getting interesting; then all of a sudden I see a long streak of formulas and then I get lost. I understand summation, differentiation but sometimes just seeing long forumlas with intimidating symbols loses me. I need a resource, book or other text that builds this stuff gradually. I can understand high school algebra up to grade 12. I get lost when reading scientific and mathematical papers. For example, the Page distribution is given by: \!f(k; \lambda)= \Pr(X{=}k)= \frac{\lambda^k e^{\lambda}}{k!}, http://depts.washington.edu/wmatkins...ics/Eqn006.gif Just like when I was learning french, it took me 10 years of wasted efforts until I found Pierre Capretz french in action and I was able to master the intermediates of the language in 6 months vs 10 years. I am looking for a similar resource for maths équations and formula. anyone can help suggest? 
April 20th, 2015, 06:58 AM  #2 
Member Joined: Jan 2014 Posts: 86 Thanks: 4  
April 20th, 2015, 09:00 AM  #3 
Senior Member Joined: Apr 2014 From: Glasgow Posts: 2,161 Thanks: 734 Math Focus: Physics, mathematical modelling, numerical and computational solutions 
If your studies are anything like mine, you'll find that sometimes you will have no choice but to deal with what you have, rather than to go to another text to find a different description for the same thing. In which case you will have no choice but to deal with the mathematics as they are already presented to you. If such a case ever occurs, try the following on some scrap paper: 1. Do the equations come with a diagram? If so, draw it yourself. Try to compare the diagram with the equation presented to you. Do the peaks, troughs and general shape make sense? 2. Try putting some numbers in and see what they evaluate to. For example, for the Page distribution, try setting lambda = 0.5 and k = 1. What does it give? Then set k=2, then 3, then 4... what happens to the result as you change k? Formulae make more sense when you relate them back to numbers. Try doing the same thing with a different lambda. Are the values totally different? 3. If there isn't a diagram, use the numbers in part 2 above to make your own plot. When lambda = 0.5, what does the Page distribution look like as you vary k? What about the case where k=1 and lambda changes? In each case, is the curve weirdlooking with discontinuities or discrete points or is it nice and smooth? 4. If you're given a sequence of operations (like the link provided) then write down by each line what is being done. For example, to go from line 1 to line 2, the person expanded the brackets on the lefthand side. To go from line 2 to line 3, the person added $\displaystyle k_{on}[ES][S]$ to both sides... etc. Write all the steps down so it is clear what is being done at each step. It also helps spot mistakes in the text if you follow the steps yourself on paper! 5. When you write out a formula for the first time, write a little list of what those parameters represent and their units. For example, let's say I'm given this: $\displaystyle F = ma + v \frac{dm}{dt}$ underneath it I'll write F = Force (N) m = mass (kg) a = acceleration (m/s^2) v = velocity (m/s) That way, if I'm unsure what something represents in a calculation further down the page, I can come back up to this bit and look up what those parameters mean. It is also good practise to make sure every parameter is labelled so it is clear what it means and what units it has. 6. Subscripts can be used to label algebraic quantities that are similar but not the same. For example, the price for three different objects might be $\displaystyle P_1$, $\displaystyle P_2$ and $\displaystyle P_3$, rather than a, b and c. Try to stick with conventions in the text you are reading however, because those conventions might crop up in other places in a similar way and it will make it easier to understand those other texts if you encounter them a second time. I hope these tips help! 

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