MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

HOW to BECOME a GOOD THEORETICAL PHYSICIST by Gerard 't Hooft (Nobel Prize Winner)

Is there similar "How to become a good mathematician by __"?

Humble Suggestion : Why not build it here?

share|cite|improve this question

closed as not a real question by Loop Space, Charles Siegel, Mariano Suárez-Alvarez, Scott Morrison Jun 3 '10 at 23:58

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I don't think that this is an appropriate question for this site as it is not focussed on an answerable question about research-level mathematics. – Loop Space Jun 3 '10 at 21:55
My initial response to this question was also slightly negative. But upon inspection, that page by 't Hooft turns out to be rather interesting, even though certain sentiments are expressed a bit too strongly for my taste. The question of designing a similar guide to mathematics is not entirely uninteresting either. Being unable to call myself a 'good' mathematician, I don't think I'll attempt it myself. – Minhyong Kim Jun 3 '10 at 23:08
Andrew -- did you take a look at 't Hooft's page? He doesn't give any nonsense advice on doing good physics and repeating it but instead gives a rather detailed curriculum together with a list of books to read with indications on pros and cons of any particular book. I think it may be interesting to try and do the same for mathematics. Chances are there will be less agreement among mathematicians on what exactly goes into such curriculum than among the physicists, and there will be several alternative versions, but in my opinion this would make sense nonetheless. – algori Jun 3 '10 at 23:14
Closed, c.f. Andrew's comment. – Scott Morrison Jun 3 '10 at 23:59
And the Powers-That-Be at the top slices the roots off another potentially good posting.Sigh. – The Mathemagician Jun 4 '10 at 2:49

While you are young, do your best to find out the most important mathematical subjects you may be capable of learning reasonably well, and learn them, and as many of them as possible.

share|cite|improve this answer
The way I would put this is: Learn everything you can, whether you think you're good or interested at it, but stay focused on where your interests and strengths lie. I know that this is contradictory, but I don't know of any logically consistent advice that I can offer. – Deane Yang Jun 3 '10 at 22:14

There is: How to Solve it, by George Polya (reprinted by Princeton University Press, 2004).

share|cite|improve this answer

Do good maths. Repeat.

share|cite|improve this answer
Gee,how insightful,Tom. I'm sure that'll be incredibly helpful to aspiring undergraduates. – The Mathemagician Jun 3 '10 at 21:31

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.