A Mind For Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science
Your brain has amazing abilities, but it did not come with an instruction manual. You’ll find that manual in A Mind for Numbers. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, you will find great new ways to improve your skills and techniques for learning, especially related to math and science.
Henri Poincaré was a nineteenth-century mathematician who once described how he cracked a difficult mathematical problem that he had been intensively working on for weeks without success. He took a vacation. As he was getting on a bus in the south of France, the answer to the problem suddenly came to him, unbidden, from a part of his brain that had continued to work on the problem while he was enjoying his vacation. He knew he had the right solution even though he did not write down the details until he later returned to Paris.What worked for Poincaré can work for you too, as Barbara Oakley explains in this insightful book. Surprisingly, your brain can also work on a problem even while you are sleeping and are not aware of anything. But it does this only if you concentrate on trying to solve the problem before falling asleep. In the morning, as often as not, a fresh insight will pop to mind that can help you solve the problem. The intense effort before a vacation or falling asleep is important for priming your brain; otherwise it will work on some other problem. There is nothing special about math or science in this regard— your brain will work just as hard at solving social problems as on math and science problems, if that is what has been on your mind recently.
You will find many more insights and techniques about how to learn effectively in this fascinating and timely book, which looks at learning as an adventure rather than hard labor. You will see how you can fool yourself about whether you actually know the material; you will find ways to hold your focus and space out your practice; and you will learn to condense key ideas so you can hold them more easily in your mind. Master the simple, practical approaches outlined here and you will be able to learn more effectively and with less frustration. This wonderful guide will enrich both your learning and your life.
—Terrence J. Sejnowski, Francis Crick Professor, Salk Institute for Biological
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|August 13, 2019|
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