No bullshit guide to math and physics

Category: Mathematics
Author: Ivan Savov
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by ivan_ah   2021-12-13
If they have showed any interest in math and/or physics, you should consider getting them my MATH&PHYS book: it's very popular for programmers.

I also have a book on linear algebra, which would be good for people doing more machine learning or data sciency stuff:

Both books are perfect for math haters, since they start out with a review of high school math.

by ivan_ah   2021-10-23
Disclaimer: I'm the author of these books.

I have a book that might be of interest to you and/or your girlfriend as a review of math fundamentals like high school math (with exercises): see also free concept maps and book preview and

Good luck with re-learning math topics... it's very cool stuff. A good source of knowledge buzz ;)

by giantg2   2020-07-05
This isn't bad. I'm surprised it's expensive now.

by ivan_ah   2020-02-27
The preview is a "special build" of the book that removes most of the content and leaves only the section formulas and headings --- this way to ensure the internal navigation works, but it's confusing since it looks like chunks are missing. Previously I would cut only selected pages but then the links didn't work. Sorry for the confusion. You can check the preview on amazon for the real page numbers:
by ivan_ah   2018-11-07
Wow what an amazing list. It will still take many years to learn all this material, but I think that a dedicated student could follow it and physics up big time! My time estimate for someone with normal intelligence level (i.e. not genius), starting fro scratch and learning part-time, would be 2-3 years. It's totally worth it though for the analytical power that learning physics gives the learner.

Some notes/links below:

> Before you begin studying physics and working through the topics in the sections below, you have to be familiar with some basic mathematics.

That is very true and often a big obstacle for people who have been out of school for some time. Note it's not enough to just be familiar with the concepts—you must achieve fluency with the procedures so you can use them as building blocks for later studies. For example, it's not enough to just read about the quadratic formula (-b ± sqrt(b^2-4ac))/(2a) and use it a few times, spending 5 minutes each time to think about the steps, plugging in the vars, etc.

Because solving quadratic equations is used so much in math and physics, you have to package that procedure as a reusable routine that you don't think about anymore and you can apply almost without thinking, in under 30 seconds. This "fluency with the basics" will ensure you're not slowed down when you reach the more advanced topics where solving quadratic equations is used.... and there is only one way to build fluency...

> Regardless of your learning style, you'll still need to solve the physics problems in each textbook. Solving problems is the only way to really understand how the laws of physics work. There's no way around it.

This. A thousand times this. I wish someone told me that when I was studying. It may not be fun to get stuck, go down the wrong path, doubt your abilities and feel stupid along the way, but that's what growth looks like. If every time you read a solution to a problem provided by someone else you gain one "knowledge unit," then finding the solution on your own is > 10 knowledge units. Forget 10x engineer, be a 10x learner—solve some problems!

> 1. Introduction to Mechanics [...] the basics of motion in a straight line, motion in two dimensions, motion in three dimensions, Newton's Laws, work, kinetic energy, potential energy, the conservation of energy, momentum, collisions, rotation and rotational motion, gravitation, and periodic motion. > You'll need to learn calculus while working through University Physics. >

Shameless plug, I wrote a book called No Bullshit Guide to Math and Physics that covers these exact topics. It would be a great starting point for someone who wants to review high school math and learn mechanics and calculus in an integrated manner. Here are some links if anyone wants to check it out:

- preview:

by ivan_ah   2018-02-18
"Pay the authors" is a really good strategy to incentivize the production of quality content. Get rid of the publishers and just have a short supply chain: author --print_on_demand--> readers. With a price tag in the 20-50 range, a prof could make a living from this book, even if the book isn't popular. When using print-on-demand and cutting out all the middlemen, the margins are very good (50% of list price vs 5% if going with mainstream publisher).

The useful part of a publisher is developmental editing (product) and copy editing (Q/A), so there is an opportunity for "lightweight" publishing companies that help expert authors produce the book—like self publishing, but you don't have to do the boring parts. I'm working in that space. We have two textbooks out: and

by ivan_ah   2018-01-12
> staff heard that some students were skipping meals in order to afford textbooks


If you're a freshman in college, please check out my book: It's super affordable and it will get you through MECHANICS and CALCULUS without too much suffering.

by ivan_ah   2018-01-07
I have quite a few adult readers using my book to refresh and re-learn basic calculus and mechanics. You might consider checking it out[1]. It's not free, but very affordable.

[1] preview:

by ivan_ah   2017-11-30
Shameless plug, I wrote a book that you can read and learn the first-year science essentials: calculus and mechanics, for the price of a 24 case of beer:

You won't get a degree or anything, but the knowledge will last with you longer than the case of beer ;)