Found 2 comments on HN
karamazov · 2014-04-13 · Original thread
I'm a big fan of SICP. I'd describe it as "hard-core": requiring hard work, but extremely rewarding for the people who take the time and effort to go through it.

I'd recommend the following three books to similarly cover the three main areas of higher mathematics (analysis, algebra, and topology):

1. Principles of Mathematical Analysis by Rudin (

2. Algebra by Artin (

3. Topology by Munkres (

Working through all three (including the exercises!) will give you a solid understanding of the basis of modern mathematics. If you don't have experience with proofwriting, you might find them difficult at first - the activity is very different from performing calculations or solving equations. It's also best to have someone trained in mathematics talk to you about the proofs, until you develop a feel for the needed level of logical rigor.

Rudin, in particular, leaves a lot of work to the reader; going through that book is the most intellectually difficult work I've ever done. If you find it hard-going (which is completely natural), you might want to try Artin first, especially since you have some background in algebra.

(Incidentally, these are the three books used to teach analysis, algebra, and topology to MIT mathematics majors. You can look up the assignments and exams for the three courses - 18.100B, 18.701, and 18.901 - for a good list of exercises to work through.)

mturmon · 2011-03-23 · Original thread
Yes, the "develop a visual analog" approach will not be effective if you spend all your time translating back and forth between the linguistic abstraction (for all delta, there is a small enough epsilon such that...) and your visual analog. For example, I just checked, and Baby Rudin ( ) does not contain a single picture or line drawing.

Additionally, some things like ordinary algebraic manipulation are very well-suited to linguistic abstractions ("multiply the polynomials, take the derivative, put all terms involving z on one side of the equation, apply the quadratic formula"). Sometimes only the linguistic abstraction can give the solution (e.g., "this problem is easy because the quadratic coefficient cancels out, and the equation is in the form t^3 + c t = d").

It's also worth noting that manipulating the linguistic abstractions takes a lot of insight and talent (e.g., knowing the perfect substitution of variable to make an integral fall into a known form, or knowing which one of the four error terms will be hard to control, and working on it first).

It's not wise to be over-committed to the visual approach.

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