# Used to think I was average at math and statistics

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stratozyck
Hummingbird

Joined: 28 Jun 2022
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Posts: 22
Location: US

29 Jun 2022, 10:22 am

Part of it was growing up with a narcissistic father who told us we were bad at math (another topic for another time), but I mainly blame the way K-12 works. You take calculus and it convinces teens that if you can't take an integral by hand you must be bad at math.

I knew a guy in high school that was one of those types that could see a complex math problem and get the answer.

As a result, I internalized it that I just wasn't good at math and that the people who were good were the ones who could do that.

I went to grad school for Economics and my father even told me not to go because I'd fail because I was "bad at math."

I got a PhD 8 years ago, and it was during and around that time I realized that actually, I have a deep intuition about math and statistics especially that gives me an advantage in math applications. I realized during school that an alternative way to see math is as shapes. Functions have shapes. What does the shape look like? Also, is the shape definite or is it explosive? Does it oscillate and change shape and what is that nature look like?

You don't need to know the derivatives by hand, but if you can visualize that, math applications may be your thing. For math applications, you tend to want functions with stable and predictable shapes. It gets hard to visualize the shapes especially when the dimensions get high (we have an easier time with 2D and 3D shapes). But the truck is to reduce the dimensionality of math applications such that we can better understand and make use of it. Math itself inherently has no concern over 2D 3D... 10D, 1million D problems. Its us that are limited in our ability to make use of it.

In math applications, its more important to be able to write computer code to validate that the math and statistics you are using behave as intended. I have never needed to take an integral or a derivative by hand. The derivatives and algebra we use is what I call "first 10 problems" stuff in your math textbooks. By that I mean, its one of the first 10 ones before the problems get harder and harder.

H_Taterz
Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

Joined: 23 Mar 2022
Age: 45
Gender: Female
Posts: 69

29 Jun 2022, 11:12 am

Okay, this post was a lot and pretty complex, but this is me!
I'm a visual spatial learner. I see pictures.
I can't explain how I got the correct (mathematical) answer, but I just end up knowing it.

I'm trying to "re-learn" math as an adult going back to college and I'm struggling. Everything is so wordy, so I lose interest.
Tell me more about what helped you?

stratozyck wrote:
I knew a guy in high school that was one of those types that could see a complex math problem and get the answer.

I got a PhD 8 years ago, and it was during and around that time I realized that actually, I have a deep intuition about math and statistics especially that gives me an advantage in math applications. I realized during school that an alternative way to see math is as shapes. Functions have shapes. What does the shape look like? Also, is the shape definite or is it explosive? Does it oscillate and change shape and what is that nature look like?