Help with finding a beginner math book.

Pages: 12
closed account (3qX21hU5)
So, I'm going to be blunt here. I suck at math, and I'm starting to realize how much I need a more advance level of math understanding then I have now to program effectively. So does anyone have any good suggestions on where to start? I would label myself as a complete beginner.

Here are a few books I have been looking at buying.

1 - Maran Illustrated Effortless Algebra

2 - Practical Algebra: A Self-Teaching Guide, Second Edition

Should I start with Algebra or start somewhere else? I have very low understanding of algebra (Had to dropout of high school because of certain circumstances). So any advice on good books , or where to start would be a great help. Thanks in advance
Not a book but try Khan Academy they have practice problems and videos for everything from telling time to differential calculus (they have videos for integral calculus but not practice problems).
Last edited on
I don't know what level of math you are compared to me but I am 14(years) and found that algebra self teaching guide looked nice. I actually just bought the book myself, If you want I can give you an update when I have read some of it. Allthough I do consider myself a bit over average in math for my age.
Last edited on
someones lending me a math book, its sposed to be a level, let you know what it is when i get it
If you're a complete beginner, then unfortunately you kind of have to go get proficient with algebra as it's used in almost every other field of math. Algebra is so painfully boring though -_- I always hated algebra class.
Algebra is so painfully boring though -_- I always hated algebra class.

It's the truth. Nothing cool ever happens in algebra. It's all about the calculus
I am 10% in algebra practical guide and is pretty fun so far, not too confusing either.
Nothing cool ever happens in algebra. It's all about the calculus

Then you get in calculus and realize it's 99% algebra, 1% miscellaneous concepts.
closed account (3qX21hU5)
Thanks Filiprei just got algebra practical guide in the mail today also and bought to start digging into it after work.
wikipedia wrote:
As a single word, "algebra" can mean:
* Use of letters and symbols to represent values and their relations, especially for solving equations. This is also called "Elementary algebra". Historically, this was the meaning in pure mathematics too, like seen in "fundamental theorem of algebra", but not now.
* In modern pure mathematics, a major branch of mathematics which studies relations and operations. It's sometimes called abstract algebra, or "modern algebra" to distinguish it from elementary algebra.

I assume you're all talking about elementary algebra? Because actual algebra is fairly cool. Also actual algebra is mostly irrelevant to programming. Although I've had some use for linear algebra. Anyway, if you're into computer science, you should probably concentrate on discrete maths. When you know your basics, at least.
Then you get in calculus and realize it's 99% algebra, 1% miscellaneous concepts.

Now I wouldn't say that's true at all. Sure it uses algebra, but it's definitely not mostly algebra. You can probably get by in calculus with just a basic understanding of algebra.


Yea I guess that's what I was talking about. I didn't know the difference between elementary algebra (which is all I've done so far) and abstract algebra. At some point I'll be taking abstract algebra and linear algebra, I hope those are more exciting than elementary algebra.
ResidentBiscuit wrote
Sure it uses algebra, but it's definitely not mostly algebra

Calculus is built off the concept of Algebra. Anything you do involves isolating a variable, finding a zero, maximum/min point, area under a curve, etc. Even using power rules to take the derivative of something is just a shortcut for using algebra to solve a limit. Algebra is everywhere, it's almost everything you do. If you're using a variable for something, you're using algebra. The better understanding you have of it, the better you will be at maths, period. Regardless of the field of study.
Last edited on
But that's like saying being a good typist makes me a programmer. Just because the skill is necessary doesn't mean the skill is the task. Calculus is not algebra, it just uses it. There's a reason it's called calculus and not "algebra, and more!".
But that isn't following the logic i was trying to get at, and isn't really a valid comparison. Programming isn't built off of typing (entirely). It's built off of logic and thought process. Now programming isn't logic and reason, but you use logic and reason in almost every aspect of programming, short of memorizing the syntax.
In exactly the same way, calculus isn't algebra, but algebra is used in almost every aspect of calculus.
But your argument above is that calculus is algebra. Following that logic, programming is just logic. Which you just said it isn't. Can't have both of those statements hold true.

Don't take any of this personally, I just enjoy a good debate :D
Can someone spell out for me what you refer as algebra to? I assume quadratic equations and polynomials in general are involved. Trigonometric and exponential functions too? What else?

@ResidentBiscuit, to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of abstract algebra myself - algebraic structures are very hard to visualize. Also it smells like number theory... Don't take me wrong though, it's still cool. As for linear algebra, the basics are fun. More advanced stuff turns to abstract algebra and polynomials a bit too much. Maybe that's just me. And maybe you won't be going too deep.

@Thumper, it's not good to make absolute statements. Calculus is as much about algebra as about arithmetic (it involves numbers) or geometry (integral is area) or topology (limit is only defined in a topology) or number theory (not in high school) and I might come up with more. All of mathematics is tangled up. You certainly need to manipulate equations to do calculus, but it is not about manipulating them. As far as calculus is concerned, there are no equations, only curves.
Last edited on
I take nothing personally :P
We're getting so far into semantics that we're slipping away from what we're both trying to say here, lol.

Why i can't find words to describe it like that, i don't know. What i was attempting to get across is that you can't have one without the other. And now it seems so simple to describe that i feel like a fool for not being able to a moment ago.
I got that was your point, but I don't think it is a good point. Algebra is an approach to calculus. For number theory there are analytic, algebraic, combinatorial, probabilistic and possibly some more approaches. I wish there was "number theoretic calculus", to illustrate my point.

Now that I look at it, I'm not sure. When you say this, do you mean it as a bad thing?
Then you get in calculus and realize it's 99% algebra
If this were re-worded to something along the lines of
Then you get in calculus and realize 99% the majority of the work is algebra
then I would probably agree.
Last edited on
Pages: 12