Proofs on Proofs on Proofs

Math is the universal language,  but in the UK, it is taught a wee bit differently. The basic process hasn’t changed: 1. Theorem  2. Proof  3. Example(s)  4. Move on. It is around step 2 that I’ve noticed the difference between math taught in the States and math taught in the UK.

The emphasis on proofs is more intense in the the classes I am taking at the University of Edinburgh than at home. Here, every theorem a professor puts on the board is instinctively proven for the students in a mandatory fashion. I’ve noticed through previous classes that the proofs, though important, don’t always help with homework or seem useful at all. My professors have acknowledged this in the past and have catered to this, leaving out long extensive proofs during valuable lecture time. I know when I skim through notes I naturally pass over the proofs, but it seems very different here. My Pure and Applied Analysis  class, for instance, consists of only theorems and proofs that can easily fill an entire lecture period, leaving maybe a minute for a quick example (if we’re lucky).

This leaves me worried for two reasons. 1. I am quite inexperienced with learning directly from theorems and their proofs  and usually rely on examples, replication, and experimentation. Using raw theorems to construct solution and deriving proofs on my own will be a whole new level of examination that is a bit nerve-racking. And 2.  The exams for my math classes count for 80% or more of my final grade, meaning if I don’t figure out how to translate this style of teaching into a format I can understand, May finals are going to be a little more stressful than I had previously imagined.

Overall, this ins’t a bad thing. I believe in challenging one’s self and pushing personal limits. I came to the University of Edinburgh not only to explore another country and culture, but to explore a brand new educational environment. To go from

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The true test comes in May, and let’s hope my posts don’t sound too hysterical then.


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