Improving my Math Skills

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Wings5
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:17 pm

Improving my Math Skills

Postby Wings5 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:48 am

Good Morning,

When I was in high school I was not very interested in math. Mainly, I was a thick-headed 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 pre-algebra 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 pre-calculus, 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 re-evaluate 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

barnaclebob
Posts: 1810
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:54 am

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby barnaclebob » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:01 am

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.

User avatar
flamesabers
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2017 12:05 pm
Location: Rochester, MN

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby flamesabers » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:05 am

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.

backslash2718
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:07 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby backslash2718 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:19 am

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.

The Wizard
Posts: 9842
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby The Wizard » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:33 am

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...
Attempted new signature...

Independent George
Posts: 141
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:13 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby Independent George » Wed Apr 19, 2017 11:19 am

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 mutually-reinforcing ideas), and the distributed practice forces you to recall things covered in previous chapters.

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 1755
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby lthenderson » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:10 pm

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, man-hours, energy, etc. I suggest you look at a good industrial engineering textbook to help you out.

ulrichw
Posts: 58
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2013 12:17 am

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby ulrichw » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:16 pm

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, man-hours, 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.

User avatar
Christine_NM
Posts: 2465
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 1:13 am
Location: New Mexico

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby Christine_NM » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:23 pm

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.
10% cash 45% stock 45% bond. Retired, w/d rate 1.5%

User avatar
FraggleRock
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:50 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby FraggleRock » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:33 pm


geologist20
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2016 11:57 am

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby geologist20 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:40 pm

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.

dbr
Posts: 21482
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby dbr » Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:37 pm

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.

User avatar
BL
Posts: 6600
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:28 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby BL » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:29 pm

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, man-hours, 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.

jalbert
Posts: 1842
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:29 am

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby jalbert » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:02 pm

Wings5 wrote:Good Morning,

When I was in high school I was not very interested in math. Mainly, I was a thick-headed 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 pre-algebra 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 pre-calculus, 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 re-evaluate 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.

student
Posts: 607
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:58 am

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby student » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:59 pm

This is standard elementary first course in operations research that you can take a look at.

https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Ope ... 0073376299

PlayingLife
Posts: 196
Joined: Sun Dec 29, 2013 3:10 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby PlayingLife » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:23 am

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 3-6 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.

hilink73
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:29 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby hilink73 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:10 pm

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.

User avatar
BL
Posts: 6600
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:28 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby BL » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:09 pm

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 3-6 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.

User avatar
JupiterJones
Posts: 2449
Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:25 pm
Location: Nashville, TN

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby JupiterJones » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:16 pm

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.
Stay on target...

dowse
Posts: 223
Joined: Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:10 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby dowse » Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:17 pm

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 calculus-based 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.

rgs92
Posts: 1045
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:00 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby rgs92 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:59 pm

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).

User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 3426
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby Kenkat » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:45 pm

Agree with others who,have said you should look into Operations Management or Business Statistics courses. Something that perhaps includes mathematical modeling.

sksbog
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:14 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby sksbog » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:07 pm

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

wije
Posts: 110
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:35 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby wije » Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:13 pm

What sort of math skills would help the most in investing?

User avatar
grabiner
Advisory Board
Posts: 19728
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:58 pm
Location: Columbia, MD

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby grabiner » Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:40 pm

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 risk-free 2.16% return with a ten-year duration. A ten-year 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.
David Grabiner

*3!4!/5!
Posts: 889
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:47 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby *3!4!/5! » Sat Apr 22, 2017 2:52 am

Wings5 wrote:Good Morning,

When I was in high school I was not very interested in math. Mainly, I was a thick-headed 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 pre-algebra 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 pre-calculus, 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 re-evaluate 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.

MP173
Posts: 1730
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:03 pm

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby MP173 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:24 am

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

User avatar
grabiner
Advisory Board
Posts: 19728
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 11:58 pm
Location: Columbia, MD

Re: Improving my Math Skills

Postby grabiner » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:56 pm

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.
David Grabiner


Return to “Personal Consumer Issues”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: 4fitness, Andyrunner, dbltrbl, Doom&Gloom, dratkinson, fposte, jef, Johnny Thinwallet, margered, spencnor, The529guy, Watty and 91 guests