I'm a high school senior. What can I do to be really interested in mathematics ? I know some of my batch-mates (from meeting them at several math Olympiads) are like insanely good at math (know lots of things from college/higer math, also are really good at solving extremely hard math olympiad problems, for example can solve IMO P3/P6 routinely)

While I don't believe that your mathematical skills are genetically predetermined, those guys I know are insanely interested in math. I mean every time I see them they're working on some math problems or exploring on some thing on math they find interesting or checking whether somethings are true or not (i.e always thinking about math from pure interest and not because of fame or glory in competitions).

How do I become as intersted in mathematics like them ? I am to some extend interested, but not so much insanely interested in math. There are some topics I find interesting (eg: Graph theory), but I don't feel the "spark" or the "urge to check and find out if something is true or not" or the "urge to explore" even while reading books I find interesting (for example, Diestel Graph theory). I also feel my interest is somewhat (not too much, but to some extend) hampered because of obsessing over my scores on various math Olympiads.

Thanks everyone for your advice in advance :)

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    $\begingroup$ You are either interested or not. Usually an interested person asks for a reference or about something he/she doesn't understand. If you're not that interested, why do you want to "become interested"? Find something better for you. $\endgroup$ – user5402 Jul 3 '18 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is a quora-style question from someone trying to find motivation for something which doesn't interests him. $\endgroup$ – user5402 Jul 3 '18 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ Spend time with people who care about math (develop friends, study groups, etc.) $\endgroup$ – Daniel R. Collins Jul 3 '18 at 21:57
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    $\begingroup$ I find this question interesting. Why do you want to be interested in math? $\endgroup$ – Steven Gubkin Jul 3 '18 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ @tokkaen Ah, that is okay. So you are already interested in math, you just cannot stomach systematic "boring" study. You are in high school, that is okay. Just try to read a proof of the prime number theorem. If you get stuck on some background piece of information, try to look up only what you need to know in a textbook. Or look for another proof which avoids that piece of machinery. You can learn a lot this way. $\endgroup$ – Steven Gubkin Jul 4 '18 at 12:25

I suggest you put aside the Olympiad training problem-collections, and put aside textbooks, and read something like this:

Dunham, William. Journey Through Genius: The Great Theorems of Mathematics. Wiley, 1990. (MAA review.)


If you are not captivated by this (or a similar book), then you should rethink your priorities.

Added (4Jul2918). Responding to the OP's request: At a higher level:

Villani, Cédric. Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. (Guardian review.)


Added (17Aug2018) in response to @usr0192's apropos comment. I've read it and it is fantastically well-written, destined (I predict) to become a classic of mathematics exposition. It covers the same ground three times, each time assuming a stronger background: no calculus, calculus, complex analysis.


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    $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot, this looks like a good book . Can you recommend few other books like this, possibly at a bit higher (not too higher) level ? $\endgroup$ – Troan Huang Phum Cheng Jul 4 '18 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ @TroanHuangPhumCheng Mazur and Stein have a new book out on Riemann Hypothesis - it is about one of the biggest unsolved problems in math. Also, I would suggest forget about Olympiads and start learning math theory (e.g abstract algebra, real analysis, etc) - that’s what I wish I had done, although I was never good enough to go to the IMO. Math is a long game, with really deep and fascinating questions/theories. Since you seem to have a Vietnamese name, perhaps fields medalist Ngo Bau Chao - who has worked on deep questions in the Langlands program - will be a source of inspiration $\endgroup$ – usr0192 Aug 18 '18 at 1:08

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