Current state of my math studies

✍️ → Written on 2019-11-16 in 440 words. Part of math life


  • Taking a lecture exam in Discrete Mathematics

  • 87 pages of mathematical definitions, theorems and proofs

  • Many proofs are left out: “Left out as an exercise to the reader / for the practicals”

  • There are essentially 3 chapters on set and number theory, 3 chapters on combinatorics and 3 chapters on graph theory

  • Struggled to study/remember all proofs assuming I even found them


  • Prof: “You know how to handle the tools, but you don’t know which tools you have”

  • Prof: “Solve these 12 exercises and we can talk about a grade”

(I was in Japan for 1 year and didn’t care to finish the exercises until 2019)


  • Me: “Can I still take the exam?”

  • Prof: “Yes, even though I didn’t have exams on this subject since then”

  • Me: “I solved all 12 exercises. Does it give me any advantage on this exam?”

  • Prof: “Yes, you only need to study 3 of 9 chapters of the lecture notes”


  • I studied the 3 chapters on graph theory and a PDF shows solutions to all 12 problems

  • Why graph theory? Because set and number theory was covered in a different course, the problems are related to combinatorics and this is my last exam on graph theory (and I never had to look into these kinds of proofs before)

  • 2h 15min oral exam

  • I am not aware of the fact, that my solutions to the problems were ever considered. Instead, proofs of the generic combinatorial formulas to solve the problems were asked in the exam.

  • Prof: “Graph theory was okay, but you need to study the chapters on combinatorics again”

In essence: I failed to study all 9 chapters. I managed to solve 12 problems. I successfully studied 3 chapters. And now I need to study 3 chapters more. Apparently, this is going to take me 4 years to get a grade in this course.

But there is also some good news: On Monday, I will take a different exam. And unlike yesterday, today (Saturday) we actually know the time of the exam (please remember that I am working and planning time is important to me).