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182 of 197 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed the way I thought of Math, September 20, 2012
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This review is from: Introduction to Mathematical Thinking (Paperback)
This goes out as a "thank you" to Professor Devlin, but should prove informative to people who can relate to my situation,

All my life, I absolutely hated math. I mean the deep pains in my cortex, blood boiling derision of the concepts kind of hatred. I remember being 8 years old and absolutely loathing the thought of studying times tables. Then, variables were added - great, numbers and letters now! No one took the time to explain why we were studying such seemingly needless information. I understand now that I am quite the pragmatist, needing a defined practical application or goal for almost anything I do. Hence the reason I hated mindless calculations so much.

My disdain for the field grew to a point in my teenage years that I could no longer even look at the subject without my well-established biases taking over, driving me away. It affected my SAT score, with a perfect score in verbal comprehension being blemished by an embarrassingly subpar result in math. My educational experience was inhibited for almost two decades, simply because I saw no use for math past counting how many apples I wanted to buy at the grocery. After law school, I became interested in finance. From fairly light interactions with financial valuation methods grew a shameful realization that my hatred for math had caught up with me, finally affecting my daily life. I was a quantitative infant in the worst way, entirely handicapped in a vast and important arena.

Then I found Coursera, and through its curriculum I came across this course. Though I have not finished it, as it has just started, the book has opened my eyes. Math is a language, just like the ones we speak and master. Its algorithms are logical thought, its concepts proven by deductive and inductive reasoning. All you need is a good handle on core concepts and, if you are like myself, a tangible application (even if its somewhat metaphorical or anodyne), and you will be able to appreciate what Professor Devlin has done with this course.

If you are willing and able to learn past the age of 20, hated math your entire existence but are finding useful applications for it as you age, then this book and the corresponding course are entirely for you.

Thank you, Professor Devlin, for doing what no teacher was able to for decades - finally get through to a smart kid who just lacked the appropriate impetus to apply himself.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 24, 2012 4:23:41 PM PST
The review is right on track. CourseA leads the way to understanding that Mathematics is a way a thinking. Thank you for your review and thank you Professor Devlin.

Posted on Feb 25, 2014 7:00:52 AM PST
Zeppo says:
Thoughtful review. Thank you.
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