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Ask HN: 23, Too late to study Mathematics?
10 points by casper345 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

Yes, you've missed the boat. You have the neuroplasticity of a bucket of dried joint compound. There is no point in studying anything at all, let alone mathematics. You are totally incapable of acquiring and synthesizing new information. To even try would be an affront to God. Whatever subjects you have learned by your advanced age are the only ones you can hope to advance in, contribute to, and profit from forevermore.

I know this is a joke, but there’s truth in it. If he aspires to hit a high level of mathematical altitude, the time for that has likely sailed.

For what it's worth, I don't think it's too late. Your biggest challenge will be to take it seriously, put in the time, and to be resilient in the face of the difficulties.

But I have a friend who is in his late 40s who is coming up to speed in Number Theory, and doing well. But he is serious, and is putting in the time.

With age comes maturity, that can help, but also a more set way of thinking, which doesn't. Also, it depends on what kind of mathematics you want to learn ...

... and why.

23? Ha! No. I went back to school at 34 and got my PhD in pure math from Princeton when I was 40.

Raymond Smullyan also got his mathematics PhD from Princeton at 40.

Similarly. People fear lack of precedent or parting with convention much more than justified.

Nah. Mathematics is kinda like "brain gymnastics": you'll have a hard time starting but it'll become easier as you go through it.

My advice is to find a place/community where you can ask "stupid" questions without being judged too much. For this kind of questions, every once in a while, I like to ask on usenet, on the sci.math newsgroup.

Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right.

In addition to my other comment[0]:

* What do you want to study?

* How much time can you dedicate to it?

* How will you study - will you have mentors?

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18622262

Absolutely not. Karl Weierstrass didn't really get started until he was 40.

No, I didn’t graduate (in mathematics) until I was 49.

It's never too late to start anything.

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