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Searching for maths tutors online finds people willing to teach up to A-level. I'm looking for help at a more advanced level.

At the moment I'm trying to teach myself category theory from downloaded lecture notes, but I have my eye on other mathematical fields including having another go at algebraic geometry once my category theory is better. However, because I'm teaching myself, if I get stuck I have nowhere to turn. By the same token, I'm doing the exercises but it's frustrating when there's no-one to tell me if I'm getting the answers right or approaching it at the right level of rigor; I find myself missing being able to submit work and get it marked.

How might one go about hiring someone who might be able to give occasional help, either online or in person (I'm in London) at this level? I'm sure university maths departments have plenty of people doing postgrad maths who might like occasional work like this, but how might I go about reaching them?

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closed as off topic by Joel David Hamkins, Kevin Buzzard, Pete L. Clark, Scott Morrison Mar 27 '10 at 5:12

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I think the best way is go to your nearby math dept, and talk to them, like in a teatime. I bet there will be people who are willing to be of help. Especially about general advices. –  natura Mar 26 '10 at 12:53
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Or knock up some more precise ad about what you want to learn (e.g. you say you want to learn alg geom, but if you read Chapter 1 of Hartshorne will you be happy, or do you want to read to the end? Make the level more precise) and then email it to graduate admissions tutors at Imperial, Kings and UCL and ask them to pass it on to the pure grad students. You might want to say how much you're willing to pay---marking is a tedious task and sometimes teaching can be too, depending on whether you turn out to be quick or slow! I suspect that something like 30 quid an hour might turn heads though. –  Kevin Buzzard Mar 26 '10 at 13:07
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When I was a grad student at Imperial I used to teach A-level and GCSE for 30 quid an hour to unenthusiastic teenagers. I would much rather have been teaching geometry to an enthusiastic self-motivated student and would have happily accepted less than £30 an hour! –  Joel Fine Mar 26 '10 at 13:23
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In my local area a bunch of people got together and formed this group to learn category theory, unaffiliated with any academic organisation: groups.google.com/group/bacat It was an offshoot of a functional programming group. I wonder if you could do something similar in London. If I was still living in London, I'd consider joining you. –  Dan Piponi Mar 26 '10 at 16:03
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I've closed this question as off-topic. I'm sympathetic to your question, but this isn't really the place for it. Hopefully Kevin's comment above will prove helpful. –  Scott Morrison Mar 27 '10 at 5:13
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2 Answers 2

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Some agencies do offer undergrad/postgrad-level tuition - in principle. (I know because I used to be a tutor for one). Your problem will be finding somebody with the specific knowledge you want. So other peoples' ideas about advertising directly to maths departments will probably be more helpful.

(By the way that agency charges £34/hr for university-level tuition - to give you a rough idea of rates. A large chunk of this goes as commission so you will probably be able to offer a lower direct price.)

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To find a "tutor" for MO-level math is easy: go to graduate school.

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Thanks, but I can't afford to give up my job; this is a hobby for me. –  Paul Crowley Mar 26 '10 at 18:00
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@Paul: "math-overflow level" mathematics, for good or for worse, requires considerable dedication of time and energy. –  Mariano Suárez-Alvarez Mar 26 '10 at 22:05
    
@Mariano - I appreciate that, but I'm optimistic since this is how I taught myself cryptography, and that worked out well for me: see ciphergoth.org/crypto –  Paul Crowley Mar 27 '10 at 10:09
    
This is exactly the answer i was thinking of when i read the question. I understand that there may be precluding factors, however if you happen to be close enough to a good department, of which there must be at least one in London, you can always just try attending. I attended school for a whole year without being enrolled. Just ask the professor for permission to attend,they might not be willing to spend time on your work, but who knows. It's not like they will call police to have you removed from the room if you are just sitting there taking notes. –  Sean Tilson Mar 29 '10 at 4:20
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