Solving problems the hard way
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 09:18:13 -0800 (PST) From: Winnie Fan Hello, My name is Winnie Fan. I have been writing various questions to Dr. Math. It is very nice for you guys to answer me back right on the next day. I was just wondering what other math classes are there after calculus because I have a great interest in Math, maybe I'll major in Math in my college. In my math class the biggest problem for me right now is that when my teacher gives me a problem, I will end up using the harder way to solve it instead of the easy way. Some people can quickly tell what method to use will make the problem a lot easier. Sometimes the problem may be so simple that because of my method of using the hard way, I end up not able to solve it. I need help Dr. Math!! Winnie Fan
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 13:44:29 -0500 From: Dr. Math Hi Winnie! I'm Vanessa, one of the math doctors here. That's great that you're so interested in taking more math in college. There are endless possiblilities for math after calculus. You can basically take a class in any area of math that interested you in high school, just on a much more comprehensive level. For example, there are a lot of theory classes that spend a lot of time proving properties of the real numbers that you had previously taken for granted. There are also a lot of computer applications of math, and programs designed to solve different systems, which might interest you if you like computers. This brings me to another point, which is that the great thing about math is that so much of all of the natural and social sciences is mathematically based. A LOT of economics is based on derivatives, and slopes of functions. You also might find that you are interested in statistics. I am taking a class in it right now and find it really interesting because of all the different experiments that are done and the ability to predict an outcome based on a mathematical model. Or maybe you're interested in biology, physics, chemistry, computer science, statistics, economics, accounting, or many other subjects that are mathematically based on some level. A strong mathematical background will help you in any of these areas. Now to answer your other question about always taking the hard way on problems. That's another great thing about math. There usually is never just one right way to attack a problem. There are usually several methods that will bring you to the correct solution. So I guess the best advice that I have for you is to do a lot of practice problems. After you do a bunch of the same type of problem, you will begin to recognize which problems can be done "the easy way" and which will require a little more intuition or maybe even "the hard way"! I hope this helps and please feel free to write back with any more questions that you may have. -Vanessa, M.D.
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