Is there one right answer in a math or physics problem?How does one approach a problem?With what mindsets? Is it necessary to have a mindset that you should find the correct combination of elements, make a synthesis and you have found it or something else? What role intuition plays in problem solving?I think intuition is like knowing something or the answer to a problem without knowing how you know it or without knowing the reasoning behind what you know.I think you know it in an unexplainable way somehow.

How does one improve intuition, especially on math and physics?I read some proofs from my notes and textbooks in math and sometimes I can not answer and when I read the answer I know perhaps I could not find it even if I would spend very much time.

Are undergraduate courses programmed for students capable of answering the questions in math and physics?

Perhaps my mindsets are wrong in math and I can not answer most times math and physics problems in undergraduate courses, although I think I do well with my memory.

Thank you.

  • You’re overthinking. Learning to solve problems is a formative skill. Pick some problems, perhaps somewhere on SE, and dig in. Best of luck! Feb 20 at 0:40
  • There’s a whole body of knowledge on problem solving. One seminal book on the topic is How To Solve It by George Polya, who spent a career researching problem solving. It is too broad a topic to be summarized in a Stack Exchange answer. Feb 20 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


For some undergraduate math problems, yes, there is one correct answer, though there might be several approaches to obtaining it.

For "intuition" in your post, perhaps you should substitute "insight". Insight sometimes comes in a flash, but more often only after hard work on several related problems.

Many people find that in the early years of learning things seem easy and they don't need to work to achieve success. But some (many) of those eventually hit a point where it isn't easy anymore and if they don't yet have good work habits (solving problems, reading, asking questions...) they may give up thinking that the next steps are impossible.

Probably you have an instructor to whom you can ask questions. Instead of asking for solutions, see if you can work out a system where you explain what you've done and ask for the flaw. Or ask for a minimal hint that will get you past the block. Good instructors know to do this, I hope.

If you can't solve a problem, find a similar problem, or several such. See if you can't get some insight from the set of them that didn't come from a single problem. I once gained quite a lot of insight about the behavior of functions by graphing (by hand with no computer - yes, I'm that old) a huge number of rational functions using derivative information. The fact that it was hard to do was probably an advantage in my understanding. I doubt I'd have learned as much by asking the internet to graph them for me and just looking at the results.

  • Hi Buffy. Yes, I think that if I ask for the answer perhaps I will only know the answer to the problem and I will not probably have learned how to solve these kind of problems or difficult ones or generally problems I can not yet solve. I have read about other problems where these people that solved them had this ability to solve them and I know that I do not yet have this ability.
    – plants
    Feb 18 at 15:51

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