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How to teach yourself math

I recently left Barcelona after spending nearly nine years in the company of wonderful people who supported me and helped me carry forward my teaching and my research. At a goodbye dinner, I was surprised that a friend insisted that I should explain how I learned math, that it would be useful and inspirational.

I had never thought about it. I guess what he meant is that I should explain why formal computational approaches are so important for me, given that I do not have any diploma in mathematics or statistics.

Doing the math

I have been doing one hour of math every day for 23 years. I will get to the how, but for now I want to discuss the why. Sticking to this schedule rigorously means that you do 365 hours of math every year. At the time I studied (in biology), you had to take ~500 hours of class per year for three years in order to graduate, so it was considered that you reach the graduate level after you study ~1500 hours. With one hour per day, it will take you a little more than four years.

At the graduate level, we had about...

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