What is mathematics? Many people think of mathematics (incorrectly) as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of numbers. Those with more mathematical training may think of it as dealing with algorithms. But most professional mathematicians think of it as much more than that. While we certainly hope that our students will perform algorithms correctly, what we really want is for them to understand three things: how you do something, why it works, and when it works. The problems we present to you in this book concentrate on these three goals. If this is the first time you have been asked to prove theorems, you may find this to be quite a challenge. Not only will you be learning how to solve the problem, you will also be learning how to write up the solution. The necessary definitions and background to understand a problem, as well as a general plan of attack, will always be presented in the text. It’s up to you to spend the time reading, trying various approaches, rereading, and reapproaching. You will probably be spending more time on fewer exercises than you ever have before. While you are now beyond the stage of being given steps to follow and practice, there are general rules that can assist you in your transition to doing higher mathematics. Many people have written about this subject before. The classic text on how to approach a problem is a wonderful book called
How to Solve It
by George Pólya, .
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