Never forget things once learned

18Sep15

This was the challenge I’ve set out before myself, which lead me to creating MathematicaAnki tools (picture below).

Note taking with Mathematica and review of notes in Anki

“My final suggestion is to pick some sort of organisational system and make a real effort to stick to it; a half-hearted system is probably worse than no system at all.”

Terence Tao

There’s an enormous amount of things I don’t know, even larger things I don’t know that I don’t know – but that’s the good news.

The bad news is that I’m forgetting stuff in an incredible pace – well, of course I’m quite happy forgetting all the workarounds around broken things on Windows (now that I work on OSX), what scares me though is the amount of maths and science in general I’ve forgotten over the years.

There are two ways of fixing it:

  1. Learn things deeply, make a lot of exercises, use the knowledge extensively.
  2. Organize your knowledge and recall it from time to time.

Of course the best way is to use both techniques all the time, but only the second way can be improved with technology (prove me wrong in comments).

Now you don’t want to use bad technology which can only work half of the way and discourage you – as prof. Tao pointed out. Equations and pictures are the things I can’t live without so I needed something which can do both, not just text; typing equations should be simple and fast. I wanted something that will work on my laptop as I don’t consider my phone a good tool for typing. Moreover if I’d be able to do some calculations in the same place that would make it beyond awesome. So I’ve picked Mathematica (bare LaTeX wouldn’t be such a bad choice, but I have a free license from University) and combined it with Anki – a flash card app. My aim was to write things once and then highlight the things that are difficult and create flashcards from them. Flashcard not only text, but also equations and pictures. I’m really excited with the result and happy to finally share it with you. If you’re interested you can find it here on my GitHub profile.

Don’t let the new academic year catch you by surprise!



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