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Learning and doing mathematics

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By: Dr. Reyaz Ahmad

Mathematics is a broad topic that involves more than just applying formulae and solving equations; it also requires a thorough comprehension of concepts and the capacity to use logic to solve issues.

For undergraduates to succeed academically and develop personally in the area, it is essential to distinguish between learning and performing mathematics. To assist undergraduates, in getting the most out of their mathematical education, this article explores the distinctions between these two areas of mathematics and provides examples and insight

  1. Acquiring Knowledge in Mathematics: The Learning Process

Acquiring knowledge and comprehending the ideas, tenets, and procedures that underpin mathematical science constitute the process of learning mathematics. This is the first stage where pupils interact with new ideas and learn new material.

  1. Examples of Math Learning:
  2. Attending Lectures: In these sessions, instructors introduce students to new information, such as the calculus concept of a limit.
  3. Textbook Reading: Students read and comprehend theorem proofs, such as the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra.
  4. Viewing Tutorial Videos: Students who are visual learners can view videos that explain how to use Lagrange multipliers or matrix multiplication.
  5. Strategies for Learning Mathematics:
  6. Making notes: Jotting down important details and actions involved in problem-solving.
  7. Memorization: Recalling definitions of terms like Riemann integrals and formulas like the quadratic formula
  8. Discussion: Having conversations with classmates or teachers to clear up questions and increase comprehension.

Because learning mathematics entails absorbing prior knowledge, it might be somewhat of a passive process. Still, it’s a necessary step on the path to being able to ‘do’ mathematics well.

  1. Applying Knowledge to Mathematical Tasks

On the other hand, doing mathematics involves actively using mathematical knowledge to resolve issues, validate theorems, or develop original mathematical hypotheses. This is the point at which knowledge becomes invention and practice.

  1. Illustrations of Mathematics Work:
  2. Solving difficulties: Solving problems like determining a matrix’s eigenvalues that call for the application of previously learned principles.
  3. Research: To investigate open-ended mathematical problems or to create novel mathematical models, undertake original research.
  4. Mathematical Writing: Creating precise and understandable proofs or creating algorithms to solve computational issues.
  5. Methods for Solving Algebra Problems:
  6. Practice: To enhance problem-solving abilities, and work through challenges regularly.
  7. Collaboration: Getting together with people to solve complicated issues or generate fresh concepts.
  8. Experimentation: Trying out various strategies for solving problems, such as Mathematical computation is by nature an ongoing activity. Along with a grasp of mathematical ideas, it also calls for perseverance, creativity, and critical thinking.

III. Connecting Mathematics Learning and Practice

It might be difficult to go from understanding mathematics to using it. It necessitates applying abstract ideas in real-world contexts after they are understood. Here are a few strategies to close the gap:

  1. Active Learning: Interacting with the content through exercises, discussions, and question-asking during lectures.
  2. Application Projects: Working on initiatives that incorporate mathematical ideas into practical scenarios, like network flow optimization or population growth modeling.
  3. Contests and Conferences: Taking part in math contests or going to conferences might help you learn about problem-solving techniques and recent research.

In conclusion

Undergraduates must be able to distinguish between learning and applying mathematics. While doing mathematics requires applying this information creatively and practically, learning mathematics gives the required foundation of understanding. Both are essential to understanding the material and developing into a skilled mathematician. Undergraduate students can enhance their capacity to make contributions to the field of mathematics and gain a thorough understanding of the subject by actively participating in both processes.

Undergraduate students must understand that while mastering mathematical concepts is important, being able to apply and extend this knowledge in new and creative ways is the goal of mathematics. A more effective and satisfying academic career in this demanding but rewarding field of study can result from using this well-rounded approach to mathematics instruction.

(The author is a Faculty member at the Department of Mathematics,Department of General Education SUC, Sharjah, UAE)

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