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What should I read?

by jkva (Chaplain)
on Mar 10, 2005 at 13:18 UTC ( #438234=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

jkva has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

Perl Monks.

I've come here for some time and since I few months I've become to realize that I am, contrary to earlier beliefs, not stupid.

Something in my brain switched, I guess.
Right now I am rapidly learning new stuff, be it electronics (which I never grasped), ASM language, and even the basics of math. And that is where my problem lies.

I have done very basic education (read : household school) and my math level thus lies not very much above elementary school level. Thus when I try to understand mathematical concepts, my lack of knowledge comes into play.

The real question I am asking : Is there a good teaching book you are aware of that will fill in the math knowledge gap I have?

My thanks.


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: What should I read?
by bart (Canon) on Mar 10, 2005 at 13:34 UTC
    I've heard good things about Elements of Programming with Perl, and on Mastering Algorithms with Perl. Perhaps this could be what you're looking for.

    If more specifically you're interested in an actual math book for people who never got math at school but are interested regardless, I've got a Prisma pocket book at home, in English, which is specifically aimed at that audience. I'll take a look at the title when I get home.

      Yeah, I might not have been too clear. I've got the Llama and Camel book, so my Perl knowledge is within grasp :).
      It's about the math. I look forward to the title of that book.

        The book I've got at home, is Mathematician's Delight by W.W.Sawyer. The author has a few more titles, you can read more about his work here.

        If you want it, you can have it... if we can figure out a way to get it to you cheaply. We'll see.

Re: What should I read?
by samizdat (Vicar) on Mar 10, 2005 at 13:53 UTC
    First off, let me say that your comments on the CB have not seemed stupid to me. Most "success" in public schools is due to an ability to kiss @ss and frog jump, as opposed to developing true intelligence and grasping connections.

    Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming" series is good. Any book on "discrete mathematics" will give you computer-oriented mathematics. Beyond that, I wouldn't look for any one book to give you everything, because math (like Perl) goes in many different directions.

    What I will say, is, "enjoy the ride!" Mathematics is one of the most powerful tools mankind has ever developed. You won't find everything in one place, though. Kirchoff's equations and digital signal processing are too far apart for any one book to give it all to you in an evening. Just trust your mind to build associations as you journey up the spiral of learning, and let it take you where it will. Basic logic and your intuitive sense will help you grasp every problem as it comes along, and everything else is just the syntax of a given representation of a concept or situation. (Again, like Perl!)
      Any book on "discrete mathematics" ...
      That is exactly what I was going to say!

      Discrete math is not only absolutely essential, but also fairly easy to pick up. I can refer you to the book I used in school, though I have no idea how it compares to others: Discrete Mathematics, by Johnsonbaugh.

      I would also suggest checking out the plethora of "journey through mathematics" type of books that come out regularly. My favorites — oldies but goodies — are the ones by A. K. Dewdney, particularly The Turing Omnibus. That one in particular is really about computation and algorithmics, but very fascinating, and closely related to discrete math, most of the time.

Re: What should I read?
by RolandGunslinger (Curate) on Mar 10, 2005 at 13:59 UTC
    I read your post and could definitely sympathize. I have been in a similar situation, where at age 41, I'm realizing that lack of confidence has hobbled me more than ability. I'm doing self study in subjects that are of interest, such as math and electronics, psychology, and even physics. As for what math book...perhaps a bit tongue in cheek, but I can seriously recommend looking at the 'For Dummies' series of books. I've read about 3 of these on various topics, and will be getting Latin for Dummies and Calculus for Dummies soon. I strongly recommend taking a look at this series...only the title is unfortunate, these books are excellent introductions and should not be ignored because they are titled 'for dummies'. Also, I applaud your efforts to improve yourself and strongly encourage you to reach for your potential.
Re: What should I read?
by chas (Priest) on Mar 10, 2005 at 14:03 UTC
    There is a very fine book, "What is Mathematics" by Courant and Robbins (don't know publisher...). Don't be put off by the title - it really contains readable introductions to lots of mathematics, some fairly deep (calculus, topology, etc), but is written for someone without much math background. (I don't know how easy it is to find, but I think it is still in print.)
Re: What should I read?
by zentara (Archbishop) on Mar 10, 2005 at 14:01 UTC
    Maybe would be worth looking at? The problem with Math is that the reasoning behind the formulas and methods, don't make any sense until you need to apply them to a problem yourself; so you end up in this "memorization" rut.

    The thing to do is try and solve "story problems", then you start to see the need for the different formulas, and how they interelate.

    Start with something simple(and easy to visualize) like this:

    Given an orange of diameter 4 inches(assuming a perfectly round orange), what is the area of the orange peel(both in square inches and square meters), if laid out flat on a table?

    So what formula would you go looking for? If you want greater depth, how would you develop a formula for someone else to use? Take a week to meditate on it. What would be the difference if it was a donut?

    Maybe subscribe to a newsgroup like sci.math and just read thru what they are saying, even if it dosn't make sense. After a few years, you will pick up on the way "they think".

    And finally, the best way to learn something, is to be forced to teach it to someone else. So if you have kids, take it upon yourself to help them understand math. You will learn more than them. :-)

    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. flash japh
Re: What should I read?
by VSarkiss (Monsignor) on Mar 10, 2005 at 15:48 UTC
      As someone in something like the same position as the OP, let me heartily recommend the Abelson and Sussman book. I think it will bear multiple re-readings: deep stuff of general applicability. Having gotten to the point in my (hobbyist's) study of computer languages where learning (the syntax of) a new language is relatively quick, I am ready to face more general questions about program design and operation. Thanks again for the link.

      --Your punctuation skills are insufficient!

Re: What should I read?
by renz (Scribe) on Mar 10, 2005 at 14:59 UTC
    I've honestly never sat down and read any math books, so I can't help with the hardcopy aspect of the question, but you might want to check out the Math Forum (run by Drexel University). Dr. Math's FAQ covers a lot of basic math concepts you may have missed.

    "Call on God, but row away from the rocks."
    --Hunter S. Thompson.

Re: What should I read?
by PreferredUserName (Pilgrim) on Mar 10, 2005 at 14:41 UTC
    I know you're looking for more a more "fundamentals" sort of book, but when you're done with that I recommend you check out Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary Tales of Logic, Math, and Probability.

    It presents various interesting math ideas in an enjoyable format (Sherlock Holmes mysteries, with Dr. Watson playing the Socratic foil).

    There's also a good quantum physics book in the same format by the same author.

Re: What should I read?
by Zaxo (Archbishop) on Mar 11, 2005 at 05:05 UTC

    The Mathematical Experience by Philip J. Davis and Reuben Hersh is a fine introduction to what mathematicians do and how they think. It gives introductions to bits of math that range from easy to mind-boggling.

    Update: The link doesn't seem to be working well, so I'll give ISBN in plain text. ISBN 3-7643-3018-X, published by Birkhäuser.

    After Compline,

Re: What should I read?
by planetscape (Chancellor) on Jun 10, 2005 at 09:48 UTC
Re: What should I read?
by InfiniteLoop (Hermit) on Mar 10, 2005 at 14:11 UTC
    I understand that you already know basic mathematics, but have you tried the Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics ? Im not sure if this will be of much help in your quest, but I found this system to be refreshingly simple.

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