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HOW TO LEARN MATHEMATICS?

[ There four aspects of question:


1) What is learning? And How to learn?
2) What is mathematics? And how to learn it?]

Purpose of my lecture: To show that people generally lack mathematical thinking; and to teach them
mathematical thinking with the help of few examples.

INTRODUCTION:

1) Introduce yourself. A warm and hearty welcome to one and all. Welcome to the world of
mathematics. Write your name on the board , write Aritra. Tell them about how your name is
pronounced. Tell them why you give importance to your initial.

2) Okay, lets get started.


In six chits, write the following questions and pick a boy and a girl, and ask them to write a response
on the following questions:

a) What is Good?
b) What is faith?
c) What is love?
d) What is beauty?
e) “Particle” - What it means?
f) “Wave” - What it means?
g) “Mind” - What it means?
h) Success and Failure:

In the meanwhile, when the students write their responses, ask the audience if they find any pattern in
these words. These are words that have abstract meaning.
Collect the responses, and read it for the audience to show that different people associate different
meanings to the same word. Why do you think does this happen?
It happens because, each person’s “Mental dictionary” is different. But why is it so?
How to get an answer for this question? Can I ask one more question such that, it would provide me
some insight to answer this?
Yes, lets ask “how babies learn a language”? Doesn’t the language that we speak seem too abstract for
a baby to learn? How then, it is able to ask whatever it requires within few months after its birth?
Interesting right!

The above experiment illustrates the importance of having a common definition. It also gave some
insight about how the human mind learns to think. It showed that human mind has an innate ability to
associate things with what it knows.

Now, lets move on to another aspect of thinking.


Let me ask you another question. What do you think is most fundamental prerequisite for mathematics?
Or in other words, after what invention could math have taken birth? Even now, if you are confused, let
me again rephrase this question - “Which invention is necessary for the invention of mathematics?”
To understand this lets get back to my name. What information does it encode?
It encodes two important information – 1) It represents a person, in the set of all living people.
2) The sound of pronunciation. It tells you the person is, and how to call him/her.

Is it a function? If not can it be made into a function? Let’s do this.

P(Interval) = The set of all living people in the earth.

N = The set of all english names.

Under these definitions of set I can define a map called naming function
f: P---→ N such that,

f(x) = name of x for all x in P

Is the map bijective?


No, more than one person can have the same name. So, the map is not on-one.
Is the map onto? No, there can exist a name such that no person in given period of time is called by that
name.

Now, what condition can I impose on the set N, so that the map becomes onto.
Redefine N = The set of all english names such that, for all y belonging to N there exist x belonging to
P such that the name of x is y.

Okay, Fine. Now let us ask another question.


How about the map between N and the set sounds of pronunciation? Is it bijective?

But, we must note that these sophistication came after the invention of mathematics.
So, we see clearly that “Representation was an innate need for humans to communicate with each
other”?

So, Representation is the key. It gave rise to a language that we use for communication. So, a
“Language” is the most fundamental prerequisite for mathematics.

So, one must know a language well enough to communicate. The more he is well versed in a language,
the more refined his thinking.
Have you wondered, why different students take different amounts of time to grasp the concepts of a
subject?
Language is the reason. If they are poor at a language, and the concepts are communicated in that
language, then they may not posses the skill to reformulate an equivalent statement for a given
statement. It would take them time to process the right thinking mentally.

So, my friends, I advice you to all to practice thinking in English always, so that your mathematical
ability would improve naturally. Mathematical ability in reality is actually attained by thinking in all
possible ways in the language that you know.
This is because of the obvious reason that contemporary mathematics is written in English. And try this.
It really works. Remember, that reformulating an equivalent statement for a given statement, is a very
much essential skill needed to do mathematics
One must know the language well enough to differentiate between the so called “literal Meaning” and
“figurative meaning”.
Eg: People sometimes say that they are sitting on the fence, to express their state of confusion to decide
between two different things. Figurative meanings, are invented to sound nice. They are often used in
poetry and literature.
But, when a mathematician tells this, he really means that he is sitting on the fence. ha ha
Mathematicians never lie. In mathematics, we always attribute literal meanings when we talk.

It is worth noting that a poet or a writer would posses the same amount of mathematical ability as that
of a good mathematician. But they just use it differently.
An immediate question arises, that why don’t poets do mathematics?
This is because, a mathematician invents a new set of grammar for his goals. They call this algebraic
rules. So, if a poet learns this new set of rules, he would really be able to do mathematics.

Believe me! Anyone can do mathematics if they wanted to.

What are all the other traits of a good mathematician?

1) Good Observation Skills: A mathematician always manages to find a pattern in a problem.


He then exploits the property to solve problems or even to formulate theorems.
The fundamental key to solve any problem is to figure out the patterns exhibited by particular object.
If the pattern is known, then mathematician invents his own tools for representation of these patterns in
terms of symbols. This act, helps in communicating his mathematical discoveries to others.

2) Persistence/Resilience and Patience: Mathematics can never be learned in a hurry. It certainly, takes
time to grasp concepts in mathematics because of the symbolic nature of the language. Mathematics is
about communicating new ideas of reasoning to people. So, it certainly takes time. Be patient and don’t
give up.

3) Curiosity: It lets mathematician to explore new ideas and also helps him attain wisdom.

Mathematics in short, is an ocean of ideas.


Irrespective of your field, whenever you feel the need for an idea to proceed further in you life, the
door of mathematics is always open to you. Come and explore various ideas found in this ocean.

.
1) how many months in a year have 28 days?
(All months)
2) Can you mathematically prove that “Mathematicians are fools”?

Trivial Analysis

I am not defining - planet, mammals, species. I leave it for the physicist, biologist to define them
respectively.

I assume that there exist a common language for communication between aliens.

I am not defining a question and an answer. I assume that for every question, there exist an answer.

Definitions:
1) Aliens: The mammals living on a planet are called aliens.

2) Person: A member of the species of mammals living on the planet earth, that are called Homo sapien
sapiens(humans), is respectfully called a person. A collection of humans is called people. Humans obey
the following property:

Human Property: Unless an alien from an other planet introduces itself to humans, Humans do not
know any information about an alien on another planet.

3) Correctness of an answer – An answer given by an alien is said to be correct, if the questioner


anticipated the same answer.

4) Intelligence : An alien on a planet is said to be Intelligent, if it gives correct answers whenever they
are asked a question.

5) Fools: Aliens that are not intelligent are fools.

Ip = The set of intelligent aliens on a given planet p.


Fp = The set of fools on a given planet p.

Q) Does there exist an intelligent alien on earth?

Statement: There does not exist an intelligent person.

Proof: Let P be the set of people in the planet earth.

1) for all x that belong to the set of people, x is not intelligent. (Direct method)
(or)

2) For all x that belong to the set of people, there exist a question for which x cannot give a correct
answer.
3) Construction: Let y (an alien on any other planet, that meets x for the first time) be the questioner,
and x belonging to earth be the listener.
If the alien y asks the name, of its ancestor, x cannot give a correct answer, because of the human
property.

4) Conclusion: There does not exist an intelligent human. An equivalent statement of this, is that all
humans are fools.

From here It is trivially true that “Mathematicians are fools”. QED