Improving my Math Skills
Improving my Math Skills
Good Morning,
When I was in high school I was not very interested in math. Mainly, I was a thickheaded teenager who did not like working for a demanding calculus teacher, so I dropped calculus and gave up on math. "I'll never use this anyway," I thought. In college I took prealgebra and a mathematical logic course. Here I am now, 15 years later, working in logistics and transportation, trying to optimize fleet schedules and routes without the help of any applied mathematics courses or training. The last math class I completed was precalculus, in 2001. I do alright at work, but I'd like to do better, specifically with operations planning, forecasting staffing levels, business accounting, and personal financial planning.
There are opportunities in the coming years to help reevaluate my department's staffing and compensation, and I'd like to be an educated voice in that discussion.
Are there any books, classes, edX courses you've read, seen, or taken that might help? Thanks in advance!
Wings
When I was in high school I was not very interested in math. Mainly, I was a thickheaded teenager who did not like working for a demanding calculus teacher, so I dropped calculus and gave up on math. "I'll never use this anyway," I thought. In college I took prealgebra and a mathematical logic course. Here I am now, 15 years later, working in logistics and transportation, trying to optimize fleet schedules and routes without the help of any applied mathematics courses or training. The last math class I completed was precalculus, in 2001. I do alright at work, but I'd like to do better, specifically with operations planning, forecasting staffing levels, business accounting, and personal financial planning.
There are opportunities in the coming years to help reevaluate my department's staffing and compensation, and I'd like to be an educated voice in that discussion.
Are there any books, classes, edX courses you've read, seen, or taken that might help? Thanks in advance!
Wings

 Posts: 1864
 Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:54 am
Re: Improving my Math Skills
What kind of math is needed for your job? Do you need to be able to do quick calulations in your head? Hand check what a tool is telling you, or implement new complex optimization algorithms? I'm an engineer and most of the math I do is pretty simple while manipulating data in excel is what can be challenging.
 flamesabers
 Posts: 566
 Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:05 pm
 Location: Rochester, MN
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Are there any adult education programs in your area? In my city there's one where adults can attend courses for a wide variety of topics (anything from dancing courses to teaching seniors the basics on medicare insurance to teaching beginners how to use certain computer software) for a small fee.
Otherwise I would suggest taking a look on youtube if there's a specific area you're wanting to get a basic understanding on.
Otherwise I would suggest taking a look on youtube if there's a specific area you're wanting to get a basic understanding on.

 Posts: 7
 Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:07 pm
 Location: Washington DC
Re: Improving my Math Skills
I'd check out Khan Academy, and watch the videos that you feel you are lacking knowledge in. I watch his videos from time to time.

 Posts: 10041
 Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
 Location: Reading, MA
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Math is a funny thing.
I had a fair amount of it during college since I majored in engineering. And I was employed in engineering for 40+ years, so it sort of fit in.
But I can't recall the last time I solved an integral equation, certainly not for work.
Knowing things like vector analysis and the real & imaginary plane certainly comes in helpful.
But for someone else, I think you'd have to tell us just where you feel you have a weakness in. Then we could help better...
I had a fair amount of it during college since I majored in engineering. And I was employed in engineering for 40+ years, so it sort of fit in.
But I can't recall the last time I solved an integral equation, certainly not for work.
Knowing things like vector analysis and the real & imaginary plane certainly comes in helpful.
But for someone else, I think you'd have to tell us just where you feel you have a weakness in. Then we could help better...
Attempted new signature...

 Posts: 161
 Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:13 pm
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Singapore Math  they are without a doubt in my mind the best math textbooks available. Most people don't need calculus, but Algebra has a cray amount of applications that people never even think about, and Singapore Math will lead you through it better than anything else I've seen.
If you read them in sequence, the concepts are explained clearly and succinctly, material is organized in a perfect progression (material builds on itself and gradually & systematically adds more and more mutuallyreinforcing ideas), and the distributed practice forces you to recall things covered in previous chapters.
If you read them in sequence, the concepts are explained clearly and succinctly, material is organized in a perfect progression (material builds on itself and gradually & systematically adds more and more mutuallyreinforcing ideas), and the distributed practice forces you to recall things covered in previous chapters.
 lthenderson
 Posts: 1860
 Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
 Location: Iowa
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Wings5 wrote: Here I am now, 15 years later, working in logistics and transportation, trying to optimize fleet schedules and routes without the help of any applied mathematics courses or training.
You aren't looking for math, you are looking for industrial engineering courses. An industrial engineer is all about working to reduce time, materials, money, manhours, energy, etc. I suggest you look at a good industrial engineering textbook to help you out.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
lthenderson wrote:Wings5 wrote: Here I am now, 15 years later, working in logistics and transportation, trying to optimize fleet schedules and routes without the help of any applied mathematics courses or training.
You aren't looking for math, you are looking for industrial engineering courses. An industrial engineer is all about working to reduce time, materials, money, manhours, energy, etc. I suggest you look at a good industrial engineering textbook to help you out.
+1
I believe the specific type of optimization you talk about, Wings, may also fall in the field of operations research (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_research) which, according to the wikipedia article "has overlap" with industrial engineering.
 Christine_NM
 Posts: 2490
 Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:13 am
 Location: New Mexico
Re: Improving my Math Skills
I had to write a route optimization code once. I used the algorithm in my operations research (aka management science) textbook. I too think you might benefit from an operations research course more than advanced math. It's more fun too.
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 FraggleRock
 Posts: 60
 Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:50 pm

 Posts: 12
 Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:57 am
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Unlike a lot of other subjects, with math you learn most efficiently by doing lots of practice problems. coursera.org and edx.org of a lot of interesting courses that you can audit.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
I think the posters suggesting some work in the applied fields are right. The math people give up on in high school is not mostly used as such in the real world but rather is the prerequisite for work that is used in the real world.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
ulrichw wrote:lthenderson wrote:Wings5 wrote: Here I am now, 15 years later, working in logistics and transportation, trying to optimize fleet schedules and routes without the help of any applied mathematics courses or training.
You aren't looking for math, you are looking for industrial engineering courses. An industrial engineer is all about working to reduce time, materials, money, manhours, energy, etc. I suggest you look at a good industrial engineering textbook to help you out.
+1
I believe the specific type of optimization you talk about, Wings, may also fall in the field of operations research (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operations_research) which, according to the wikipedia article "has overlap" with industrial engineering.
+2
Yes. You could also zero in on specific topics that might fit your area. For instance, the Monte Carlo simulation is used in a variety of fields, the pidgeonhole principle has many applications, etc.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Wings5 wrote:Good Morning,
When I was in high school I was not very interested in math. Mainly, I was a thickheaded teenager who did not like working for a demanding calculus teacher, so I dropped calculus and gave up on math. "I'll never use this anyway," I thought. In college I took prealgebra and a mathematical logic course. Here I am now, 15 years later, working in logistics and transportation, trying to optimize fleet schedules and routes without the help of any applied mathematics courses or training. The last math class I completed was precalculus, in 2001. I do alright at work, but I'd like to do better, specifically with operations planning, forecasting staffing levels, business accounting, and personal financial planning.
There are opportunities in the coming years to help reevaluate my department's staffing and compensation, and I'd like to be an educated voice in that discussion.
Are there any books, classes, edX courses you've read, seen, or taken that might help? Thanks in advance!
Wings
Subjects to study would be linear algebra, linear programming, operations research, and discrete optimization.
Risk is not a guarantor of return.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
This is standard elementary first course in operations research that you can take a look at.
https://www.amazon.com/IntroductionOpe ... 0073376299
https://www.amazon.com/IntroductionOpe ... 0073376299

 Posts: 201
 Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:10 pm
Re: Improving my Math Skills
I don't nearly know as much about math as what others have posted, but incase you are thinking of going back to school to get an MBA someday, or just incase you want a disciplined way of studying math without breaking the bank, you could study and take the GMAT. The Mckinsey books on math cover a wide array of topics and following a 36 month study program would force you to improve your skills. Of course, if you went forward with the GMAT, you'd have to prepare for the verbal piece as well. In my case, I wasn't too keen on math and spent 80% of my study time on the quantitative.
www.beatthegmat.com Can tell you everything you need to know about this test, and includes free flash cards, great forums etc. Whatever route you choose, good luck....and good for you in having the thirst for knowledge.
www.beatthegmat.com Can tell you everything you need to know about this test, and includes free flash cards, great forums etc. Whatever route you choose, good luck....and good for you in having the thirst for knowledge.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
I've heard good things about "A Mind For Numbers" from Dr. Barbara Oakley.
I have it sitting on my shelf but haven't worked through it yet.
It's accompanying a Coursera course.
Here's the relevant Reddit link where I got the info from:
https://www.reddit.com/r/GetMotivated/c ... ra_course/
It also gives a broader view on how we learn, which might help as well.
I have it sitting on my shelf but haven't worked through it yet.
It's accompanying a Coursera course.
Here's the relevant Reddit link where I got the info from:
https://www.reddit.com/r/GetMotivated/c ... ra_course/
It also gives a broader view on how we learn, which might help as well.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
PlayingLife wrote:I don't nearly know as much about math as what others have posted, but incase you are thinking of going back to school to get an MBA someday, or just incase you want a disciplined way of studying math without breaking the bank, you could study and take the GMAT. The Mckinsey books on math cover a wide array of topics and following a 36 month study program would force you to improve your skills. Of course, if you went forward with the GMAT, you'd have to prepare for the verbal piece as well. In my case, I wasn't too keen on math and spent 80% of my study time on the quantitative.
http://www.beatthegmat.com Can tell you everything you need to know about this test, and includes free flash cards, great forums etc. Whatever route you choose, good luck....and good for you in having the thirst for knowledge.
You could even take an old GMAT test (sample) in a GMAT booklet to see what areas are weak. I remember picking up an old used one for a couple dollars to go through before taking the test since it had been decades since I went to school.
 JupiterJones
 Posts: 2463
 Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:25 pm
 Location: Nashville, TN
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Khan Academy is great for "filling in the cracks" of your knowledge... especially helpful with math, since math subjects so strongly build on what (they assume) you've learned before.
The Ohio State calculus class on Coursera is very, very good.
The Ohio State calculus class on Coursera is very, very good.
Stay on target...
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Not sure about your field, but more and more, business optimization situations call for an expertise in statistics. In my own engineering career, I found that I wished I had been stronger in that area. With so much data available and so much emphasis on its analysis, knowledge of statistics is likely valuable. As others have mentioned, Khan academy can make at least a very good start. There are two ways to go with stats ed. You can either go with a formal calculusbased approach or a more pragmatic approach without calc. I recommend the latter. There are plenty of software tools to do the calculations, but knowledge of statistics is needed to interpret results and determine which analyses to perform.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Any math (or other subjects) you want to learn are free on youtube, just as good as being there (and better, since you can start, stop, and rewind).
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Agree with others who,have said you should look into Operations Management or Business Statistics courses. Something that perhaps includes mathematical modeling.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
backslash2718 wrote:I'd check out Khan Academy, and watch the videos that you feel you are lacking knowledge in. I watch his videos from time to time.
+1
Re: Improving my Math Skills
What sort of math skills would help the most in investing?
Re: Improving my Math Skills
wije wrote:What sort of math skills would help the most in investing?
A basic understanding of probability and statistics. (What is a standard deviation? How does it relate to risk? What does it mean for two investments to have a low correlation coefficient?) I am a mathematician, and rarely discuss anything beyond that level in the forum.
But more important is the ability to look at problems mathematically, by translating English to math, or breaking them down into simpler parts.
A common example: You have some money available. Should you use it to invest, or to pay down your mortgage?
Hard problem: Is it better to pay down this mortgage (which has, say, a 3% rate in a 28% tax bracket with ten years left), or to buy stock?
First simplification: 3% mortgage in a 28% bracket is 2.16% after tax. If you make an extra mortgage payment now, you will earn 2.16% after tax on this payment for the next ten years.
Easier problem, breaking it down:
1. Is it better to pay down this mortgage, or to buy a bond? Paying down the mortgage is a riskfree 2.16% return with a tenyear duration. A tenyear municipal bond yields about 3%. That difference is probably worth the risk.
2. Is it worth selling bonds to buy stocks? You can do this whether you pay down the mortgage or not; you can sell some existing bonds to buy stocks, or you can "sell" the municipal bond (by not buying it) and buy stocks.
Conclusion: In this situation, you should not pay off the mortgage.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
Wings5 wrote:Good Morning,
When I was in high school I was not very interested in math. Mainly, I was a thickheaded teenager who did not like working for a demanding calculus teacher, so I dropped calculus and gave up on math. "I'll never use this anyway," I thought. In college I took prealgebra and a mathematical logic course. Here I am now, 15 years later, working in logistics and transportation, trying to optimize fleet schedules and routes without the help of any applied mathematics courses or training. The last math class I completed was precalculus, in 2001. I do alright at work, but I'd like to do better, specifically with operations planning, forecasting staffing levels, business accounting, and personal financial planning.
There are opportunities in the coming years to help reevaluate my department's staffing and compensation, and I'd like to be an educated voice in that discussion.
Are there any books, classes, edX courses you've read, seen, or taken that might help? Thanks in advance!
If the needed optimization isn't something you can do well with instinct and experience, then you need to hire an expert.
Re: Improving my Math Skills
This will probably not get you to the next level in your career, but will help understand math better....purchase an old slide rule and learn to use it.
Ed
Ed
Re: Improving my Math Skills
wije wrote:What sort of math skills would help the most in investing?
Another example, not even a math skill in the general sense, is to recognize that there is a math problem, and solve it before making a decision.
Suppose you are considering hiring an advisor who charges 1% of your portfolio as a management fee, and you expect her to manage the portfolio for 20 years. If you compound a 1% loss for 20 years, you can conclude that you will get 18% less than the portfolio itself does. Now, you can decide whether that 18% is worth it.
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