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How to become a mathematician?

I live in Ukraine (Eastern Europe) and I want to became a mathematician so I have some problems. I don't know what I have to do. I'm in 11 grade( It's mean I will study in uni in 2014). I don't know, many people say we don't have a good education in uni. I understand I have to study math by myself.

I don't know about math society. All we need to talk with people about hobbies, but I never meet people who like math.
I guess Ukraine bachelor+master+phd(some university in Ukraine don't use USSR system since 2006) in it's not enough to be a really good mathematician

What should I do?

"According to Frances Cairncross (in April 2010) "Ukrainian education is too inward-looking, too corrupt and too poor to do a good job".[14] According to Anders Åslund (in October 2012) the best parts of the Ukrainian education system are basic education in mathematics and science; but the quality of doctoral education is bad, particularly in management training, economics, law and languages.[15] He also signaled that the greatest problem in the Ukrainian education system is corruption"
You may read about this

P.S. I'm sorry. I guess many people ask this question this, but I really don't know.

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    Jan 5 2014: you would have much success on math specific forums. look around reddit for example, . i recommend googling a little bit first, you don't want to go to a forum, and ask a question that might be asked every week. here, google trick: . reddit was just an example, you might find other forums too.
  • Jan 7 2014: If you want to be a mathematician, know what type you want to be: Applied or Theoretical. Both require a base knowledge but require different skills and approach. Start working on base theory, Trig, Euclidean Geometry, Linear Algebra, etc. Learn the central assumption of each. Do not memorize but prove all the theorems, great fun for Trig, Geometry, Algebra, Calculus, etc.

    1. realize what you are learning in High School is mostly based on what the ancient Greeks knew up to Newton
    2. realize what you learn in undergraduate ( apply to a reasonable school for math) was developed in the 19th century.
    3. Graduate school is when you specialize and really start moving into the modern era.
  • Jan 7 2014: I can't say that I know anything about Ukrainian education. I will however say that your quality of education is primarily dependent on you. If you put a lot of effort into learning math you can get a lot out of it, regardless of how good or bad your teachers are. If you do get a bachelors and feel that you could learn more under different teachers elsewhere, then apply for grad school there. By the time you finish a degree you should have a pretty good idea of what you want to focus on in the field.
  • Jan 6 2014: As mentioned before, you can use Khan Academy and AoPS (Art of Problem Solving). This info should be pretty reliable, as I'm saying this from experience. As a basic guideline, Khan Academy teaches you all you need to know, and AoPS demonstrates how you can use that knowledge to excel (although AoPS teaches the basics too). For economics, there are videos on Khan Academy, although I can't really vouch for them because I've never done them before. And if you're looking for a job (again, can't vouch for this advice because I haven't done it myself), then, based on what branch of math you're interested in most and maybe another thing you like (you'd be surprised how many things math is related to), pick a direction to head in and work from there. With the vast variety of resources available to you on the Internet and the local opportunities you might have (like the math and science circles mentioned) and some hard work, you should be on the path to what you want. Good luck and hope this helps! :)
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    Jan 5 2014: Basil, Frtzie make some great recommendations. She is a mathematician and a good friend to TED.

    Sometimes we have to accept the options we have. So here is my non-math input. You quoted what others have said and it may or may not be true. In Lutsk there must be professions that require higher math ... like engineers, architects, CPA, etc ... ask their opinions as to the correct path and how their experiences have helped or hurt them and learn from their experiences. Is your goal to teach or to enter a field that requires higher math?

    There are options to assist you .... I personally like the Their lesson plans guide and assist you through all of the steps from 1 + 1 to calculus.

    In Lutsk there is a organization called: Organization for Educational Resources and Technological Training (ORT). I found it at:

    I once read that there are circles that meet ... you may want to seek a science or math circle .... as the professionals in your area for help locating these and the meeting places.

    Sorry I cannot offer better advice. I wish you well. Bob.
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    Jan 5 2014: Did you guys know that there are illegal numbers? Yes, numbers that are ILLEGAL!
  • Jan 4 2014: Let me discuss the mathematical sciences in 2 stages. The first stage involves the basic topics like (basic) algebra, trigonometry, analytical geometry, then the college level courses like calculus, differencial equations and probably some theory probability and statistics. These are the necessary concept to be the bases for any second stage study in many specialized field of experts or professionals in mathematics. So there are field in econometrics, statistics, actuary, various engineering design and quality control, physics and mathematicians in business marketing, investment management and biomedical sciences including genetics and epidemiology. (the study of the cause and transmission of diseases). I mentioned this is because the choice of which field will interest you has to be made before you get your bachelor's degree or even earlier.
    The first stage is easier to prepare and, for some people, could learn most of these topics by themselves without going through formal school work. You could go through these by taking instructions from internet courses. Even though it is hard to believe, I myself self studied all the courses from Trig. to Differential Equations without the help of internet (because there was no internet whatsoever 60 years ago). If one is good in mathematical reasoning, one could understand the formulas and keep and derive them from 3 or 4 basic theorems without memorization. Similarly, one could derive the derivatives of many expressions from the basic idea of the derivative. There was a talk about this in last year's TED Talk about the differential calculus.
    However, most of the second stage must involve couple of experts in any sub-field, as well as some hands-on experience is necessary. For business management sciences, the U. S. universities are perhaps the best, For engineering, Germany will be more appropriate. And if you are more or less interested in pure mathematical theory, the the Russian institutions are eminently qualified.
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    Jan 4 2014: To become a good mathematician, you must at least follow the following basic rules:

    1) Learn or memorize all the basic equations(trigonometric, etc.).
    2) Practise more & more questions.
    3) Don't be afraid of solving any kind mathematical question when you are asked to do so.
    4) Depend less on calculator & internet but more on your brain.

    If you follow these steps, I am damn sure you would be a good mathematician.
  • Jan 2 2014: Again the internet is the way to level the playing field. Anyone can learn anything on the internet.
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    Jan 2 2014: I don't want to throw cold water to your idea. It's not referred to you,but I think if someone doesn't have the business learning maths, he'd better find another way to go.
  • Jan 1 2014: You might have to do some investigation yourself. Here are a few places to look:
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    Jan 1 2014: I really recommend for math studies.

    And Nuberphile on Youtube is really great!
    Also Vihart is also really great, if you can keep track

    Edit: And the biggest community for math interested people that I know of is It has just above 100'000 subscribers and there's usually around 200 people there at any given time.
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    Dec 31 2013: As you are a high school student, I think an excellent first stop would be the Art of Problem Solving community at

    If you cannot get a decent university education where you live and cannot move, I would look into online options. But I honestly think you will do far better by taking university level courses than trying to self teach yourself what it takes to become a mathematician.

    As you are a high school student, you might look at EPGY, which is Stanford's online program for high school students and CTY which is the equivalent, but with lower admissions requirements, from Johns Hopkins University.

    You will be unlikely to become a mathematician by taking courses from Coursera.
    • Dec 31 2013: Sure. I will take university courses, but I mean only courses it in uni not enough.
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        Jan 1 2014: Most mathematicians got there by taking university courses and also working with mentors at the university.

        If you are in eleventh grade, you may well not have done any math yet that resembles what mathematicians actually do. Art of Problem Solving can help supplement you in this respect.

        You might also look up whether any math circles meet in your area. The idea of a math circle hails from Russia. Most mathematicians from that part of the world start in math circles when they are younger than you and are brought along by professional mathematicians who give their time to bringing along the next generations.

        Math circles have existed in other parts of the world for only about ten years, I think. The opportunities for recreational mathematical activities have really boomed in the last twenty years, because so many young people are interested in doing more than classroom work.