Thursday, March 23, 2017

Update On My Struggle With Advanced Math

I got a book on Fourier series because I liked the way the cover looked.


Yesterday I started reading David Bohm's Quantum Theory and was encouraged by his assertion in the Preface that his approach de-emphasized a dependency on advanced math. But then on page 1 of Chapter 1 he mentions that, despite this approach, some familiarity with Fourier series cannot be avoided in order to understand the book. Then before he got to the Fourier series there was what seemed to me to be an awful lot of complex math for someone who was de-emphasizing math. For all I know it might have been a great de-emphasis indeed for a textbook on quantum theory.

My point is that I still hate math and that that is still hampering my study about things like electromagnetic fields and waves and quantum theory. Perhaps it's in part that 55 is a very advanced age to pick up mathematical studies which one broke off in the 10th grade. I think I know now what that capital sigma means in mathematical... equations. I don't know whether "equations" is the right term for all that weird stuff which Good Will Hunting and famous physicians scribble all over their blackboards.

I've been thinking lately about various math teachers of mine. I got along well with all of them. Maybe that had more to do with my talent than my personality. All of them were disappointed when they saw that I wasn't planning on an extensive career in mathematics. I feel bad about disappointing them. But such a career was never a serious possibility. There's only so far you can do, hating what you do. I imagine that successful mathematicians and physicists, when they see one of those blackboards covered with all of those squiggles, or a difficult paper or book on Fourier series or quantum theory or what have you, feel something somewhat like what I feel looking at an ancient text or a commentary on that text: intense interest, a strong desire to immerse myself in the subject at hand. I can't imagine that a person could get very far on ability alone, unaccompanied by a love for the subject.


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