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Am i just not cut out for math?
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First it’s a terrible idea to make big life decisions based on people knowing you the least: Internet strangers. You should have serious conversations with various professors, post-docs, and grad students.

While genetics undoubtedly play a factor as they do in most things in life, and many math superstars are likely endowed with good genes, in most cases upbringing plays a much bigger role. Many of your peers practiced mathematical problem-solving for years and it would be unrealistic to get to their level in a short amount of time.

I can relate to you as I also come from a different field and I asked my professor  the same questions. He told me that working hard is not enough, you have to work smart as well. That is, you have to deliberately spend effort developing effective study and problem-solving skills tailored to advanced math. For example in intro analysis, I draw a lot of pictures (mostly points and balls) to get intuition. A single problem set only covers a few theorems and definitions so you just need to figure out which ones are relevant for your problem. When I inch toward the conclusion, I signpost every step so I keep myself on track and minimize logical errors. If direct proof doesn’t look promising after some attempt, I switch to contrapositive or contradiction (and you get better at identifying when proofs should be done this way from practice). It was also very common for me to spend hours on a single problem, but I take breaks. If I can’t solve it in 40 min or so, I either move onto the next one or take a walk outside so that I let my brain work on it in the background (“diffuse mode”). Often when I come back to the problem my diffused mode brain already come up with a different approach. This is also why I start problem sets as soon as they are assigned so my brain can work on these problems in diffused mode for days if needed. Once I have attempted enough but can’t get anywhere, I go to my peers or office hours to get unstuck and then reflect on how I could’ve gotten the insights myself.

What I’m trying to say is that for people who only got into math in college, it’s very common to take a longer time to digest concepts or solve problems than peers that are ahead due to upbringing. The best way to catch up is work hard AND smart (“deliberate practice”). Eventually your advanced peers will hit their bottleneck as well and they will face the same problem that you face now. If you pick up the effective learning skills now I would not be surprised if you go further than your advanced peers in grad school (if that interests you) as they relied on their “talents” too much and never learned how to learn. If your professors/TAs are good, you can pick up the skills in their office hours. Otherwise you have to do a lot of self-reflections and experiments to develop the most effective skills for your learning. I already gave you some examples and hopefully you can extrapolate.
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>I need someone to tell me, without being nice, just complete, brutal honesty, is skill at math genetic?

Yes (and also some people have the advantage of also having done lots of maths previously)

> Is it possible to get better at proofs by working hard?

Also yes.

I'm sorry, this probably isn't very helpful. Maybe you can try really hard to improve at this particular subject - go to office hours, work hard on the homework, and so on - and then decide afterwards whether the amount of work you had to put in was worthwhile?
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You need to have an interest in it and push past the difficulties. How do you push past the difficulties? Well you need to have a motivation. And by motivation I don’t mean the cheesy “oh work hard grind hard motivate yourself”, it’s like no what do you want to do with this information once you master it.

I’ll give you an example. For me, I’m a statistics major, and I want to study Bayesian statistics at a high level and do research in it in a phd program. Specifically something in relation to Bayesian non parametrics and decision theory.

To get there? I need a ton analysis, a ton of measure theory. My motivation early on is to keep going and going and doing more problems because that goal I’ve set is there and I must reach it. I’m willing to suffer and take Ls on homework’s and exams until I get to that goal. I don’t care what stands in my way.

It’s about how bad do you really want to get better at something. How bad do *you* really want it. What is your end goal in learning high level mathematics. This past semester after I bombed my first intro proofs midterm, I was in the library every morning at 7 am grinding proofs from lecture notes/how to prove it until it became second nature. But it wasn’t because I was forcing myself too. It became a challenge for me and I wanted to tackle that beast, because I had an end goal for it.

So my advice, think about an end goal with what you want to do with mathematics, and see it as a beast that you need to conquer. If you don’t have an end goal that’s fine, but you need to have a passion and burning desire to get better at the material. I did 20% above average on the final exam for the class not because I was *smarter* than everyone, but because I was putting in the work day in and day out. Think of every semester your going to war and your leveling up your skillset in order to achieve an end goal.
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>. I have to struggle for hours and hours on single problems from the homework and still not be able to solve them.

Maths teaches one how to bash their face against a brick wall for several hours in the hope that the brick wall fails first. The secret is nobody is "good" at maths.
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why do things you dont enjoy? I found that a lot of anxiety comes from comparing yourself to others. if you enjoy the math, the challenge, and that feeling when you nail a proof - then why does it matter? Just be the best YOU can be and ignore the grades, celebrate you getting a low passing grade. Stick with it and surely you will get somewhere whilst enjoying the ride.
Mathematics opens all doors, your lucky to have an intrest that is the language of everything…others like to study things like jellyfish.
If its really not that fun. jost go for something else and have a hobby.
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there is a learning curve when you're getting into more in-depth proofs. Some ppl pick it up quickly, some require abit more time. But alot of it is practise. When I took my first analysis course, I practically dedicated an entire evening to just analysis every other day, which is alot more than I put into other courses. And looking back at it now, alot of it is almost trivial, but at the time it certainly didn't feel like it.

Try different strategies of approaching a problem. Drawing pictures and trying to see why the statement is true helps alot, then convert this reasoning into the mathematical language. Write out definitions that you think you'll need, that could help guide you into what you'd like to show.

This one is abit harder to do, but don't think linearly! Think about what properties you'd ideally like to have, then see how you can get there.
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Sounds to me like you will do extremely well in a maths adjacent field but not in maths itself. It's not a bad  thing. You may end up having greater impact on the world than most mathematicians.
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I thought about your post a lot.

I'm in my fourth year. It was actually pretty clear to me, with a lot of grinding, until I hit stuff like elective classes. Looking back I think I did not really get 100% of the 'easier' classes (still fucking hard). I'm trying to find the time and willpower to revise.

So I am like you. I'm shit compared to my classmates. And I went to a psych. He couldn't help but I did tell him: I seldom ask questions because I don't even know what to say. Like I can't even develop a question. he told me, just ask. So I think you shouldn't hole up in your room grinding, just ask for help. Ask why they solve in a certain way, why something is true. And keep working on it.

You don't want to give up. I don't you to give up either.
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If you really want to know more math, finishing the major isn't a terrible idea, as long as you make sure to develop employable skills on the side.

To answer the questions, yes it's largely genetic; yes you do get better as you go along, but the other students also get better, and academia is a brutal competition. I dropped out so I may be biased, but my 2c is if you're not near the top of the class I wouldn't bet on an academic career, at least not without a serious plan B.
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What kind of things are you struggling with . Analysis and some of the more abstract linear algebra can be very confusing and breezing through it is unlikely .


Try not to compare yourself to others too much , a lot of students  don’t like appearing stumped on a particular problem and tend to over exaggerate how they’re doing. Potentially even seeing the solution before .


If you could give some examples on the concepts/ things you are struggling with maybe it could help more !

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