Hello World!

Posted on September 22, 2014

I’m going to start blogging here about my journey to teach myself PHD level math and computer science, with the ultimate goal of becoming published.

Why Math?

Why not? I’ve been programming since I was 12, and I’m 22 at the time of writing this. Even so, Math has never been a strong point of mine. I was unfortunatelly cursed with the plight that is shared by so many other students, that of being stuck with a Math teacher that hates his job and hardly understands math himself. It wasn’t until my senior year of highschool that I had an amazing physics teacher when I realized how cool math is. Since then I’ve been dabbling more and more in math, but really I’m still a novice. I use it in my job all the time, and there’s so many cool things I want to be able to do that I have trouble with because I lack a rigorous theoretical foundation.

Why Self-taught?

Because I don’t like spending money, because I hate lectures, and because I believe that the Internet and books are better teachers than.. well.. teachers.

Between the lectures on websites like Khan Academy or Coursera, the cheap e-books available on Amazon, and the plethora of mathy exercise websites like Project Euler and Hacker Rank, I believe we’re living in a time where you can teach yourself literally anything you want with just a computer and an Internet connection.

The only thing I’m missing right now is the close community of like-minded individuals to bond and learn with. I hope to take care of that through this blog, and through opening up and connecting with other bloggers. If you want to connect about anything, even to just say hi, send me an email at personettelabs@gmail.com. I will reply!

Where am I at right now?

It’s weird. Because I love math, but hate school, I’ve taken a very self-defined route. I’m definitely a novice by many standards. I’m taking it slow, but forcing myself to get an intuitive grasp of the subject before moving on, so I’ll have a stronger grasp of the subject than students that are just brute forcing a higher grade. My mantra is to never memorize a formula that I don’t understand intuitively.

Right now I’m dabbling a lot. I know how to program in multiple languages very well, including Haskell, so I am at least familiar with the mathy side of programming in that regard. I understand data structures and algorithms from a practical level, but not so much from a theoretical level. My goal is to build up the theoretical understanding so that in the future I can further build up my practical understanding from a concrete foundation.

As far as pure Math goes, I’m pretty bad at Algebra, but can get by. I know Geometry and Trig enough to work at a practical level and have used them in games and toys plenty of times. I know a bit of Set Theory and understand the ideas behind Number Theory and Axiomatics, but my knowledge is very shallow, and I haven’t constructed a proof since 10th grade Geometry, so I really need to work on that. My Calculus understanding is that of a single month or two of Calculus 1. After I slow down my dabbling and gain focus, refreshing myself with Algebra will be my first goal. I understand it, but I want to be a master before I get too far into Calculus.

I’m by no means at the very first step of my journey, but seeing how much left I have to learn I might as well be. It’s as good a time as any to start blogging about it, so here goes! I hope you’re able to enjoy and learn along with me.

Where do I want to go?

I’m not 100% sure right now. As I said, I’m in the early stages, so there’s so much to learn. I’m fascinated by almost all math, so it’s hard for me to plot my course right now. Things that really interest me:

  • Combinatorics
  • Algorithms
  • Linear Algebra
  • Control Theory
  • Abstract Algebra
  • Game Theory
  • Chaos Theory
  • Graph Theory
  • Machine Learning

You’d be hard pressed to name something I wouldn’t want to learn, so I’m keeping an open mind right now and just rolling with whatever seems interesting.

How am I doing it?

I’ll talk more about my daily schedule later, but the gist of it is that every day I:

  1. Read a chapter from a book on math.
  2. Work on Math/Computer Science problems on a website like Project Euler or Hacker Rank.
  3. Spend some time playing with mathematical concepts I’ve learned recently on paper.

Moving at this steady chapter-by-chapter, problem-by-problem level, I hope to make progress towards my goal.

The goal is to be published by 2022. That year is mostly an arbitrary choice, but I feel like it gives me enough time to really know my shit.