I am not an university graduate but I have a passion for learning. I want to learn computer science and I keep on searching some good reference material. Recently I found some lecture notes on TOC of a well known teacher although he has explained things in detail but I am having hard time to grasp the material. One of the reason being is that they assume that you have a good mathematical foundation and other is you have the TA and professor to help when needed.

Now, for the first reason I have a good mathematical background but sometimes it may not suffice to the expectation. Second, I am a self learner hence I don't have the luxury to clear my doubts and ask questions.

What I am doing is try to study the material normally 2-3 pages and re-read it until it makes sense or I get frustrated, next day I try to feel positive and try again, I am making progress but it feels slow.

The questions are:

  1. I will be able to change my brain's wiring by such constant effort?
  2. How to judge that I know the material? by doing exercises? but I don't have solution?
  3. How to be motivated in such situations?
  1. Definetly yes! Even if you feel frustrated at the beginning, thinking and learning about a topic has an impact on your brain. See for example Robert Greenes book "Mastery" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mastery_(book)), where he describes the lives of various geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci and Charles Darwin. They all spent a lot of time becoming masters of their field.

  2. Theoretical Computer Science is a very abstrct topic. I would recomend you to participate in some online class. See https://www.coursera.org/courses?languages=en&query=computer+science for example. There you can do excercises that get peer reviewed by others. So you know if you did well or not.

  3. Increase you motivation by:

    • Learning in groups like on Coursera.
    • Setting clear goals. What do you want to achieve? Get a better job? Write it down. Hang it on the wall.
    • Taking small steps. If you take steps that are too big, you might feel overwhelmed.
  • $\begingroup$ Hi, mastering the topics like TOC definitely gives you an edge over any filed either job or academics. To motivate myself to study again I am thinking to crack this reputed exam, since last couple of years I have filled the form and didn't go to exam in the end due to some reasons but I am thinking to crack it think time which would definitely put me in some better position and can open some new doors for me. But I have failed various times to show consistency due to job and various reasons but this time I have full six months in my hand. $\endgroup$ – CodeYogi Jul 31 '16 at 9:32

Before I attempt to answer your questions, can I suggest you look at joining the computer science group on stack exchange. Even though you have no TA or instructor, use of groups like this obviously gove you the benefit of learning through peers.

Now to your questions..

I will be able to change my brain's wiring by such constant effort?

Learning rewires your brain. This article may help to explain that. For more, you could look at these articles

How to judge that I know the material? by doing exercises? but I don't have solution?

That can be a difficult one because as you may not be following a structured curriculum you will not be able to formulate a theory test. However, could you judge understanding by learning what you need to know and testing your theory with some kind of practical test?

How to be motivated in such situations?

There are a few websites and forums out there on studying methods etc. and this page gives ideas on motivation for studying

  • $\begingroup$ I am not just asking about learning but learning difficult material which I am not getting completely in my head, should I try and try again and my brain would start getting things or make up mind that its not for me? $\endgroup$ – CodeYogi Jul 31 '16 at 9:36
  • $\begingroup$ @codeyogi Sometimes material is above your level and trying to learn it will be slow and frustrating. Consider trying to figure out the foundational materials it assumes you have and studying those first. For instance, you say you have good math skills but not quite to their expectations. Improving your math skills first will probably help you understand this material faster and more completely. $\endgroup$ – Nich Del Jul 31 '16 at 14:41

I have never found a better learning method than to put the book down.

As a great Philosopher of our Age once said "a man has to know his limitations" or more specifically...that he is limited, just a man.


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