Week 2: 博士の愛した数式 - The Housekeeper and the Professor 🎓🧮

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博士の愛した数式 - The Housekeeper and the Professor :mortar_board::abacus: Home Thread

Week 2


Start Date: Sept 26th
Previous Part: Week 1
Next Part: Week 3


Week Start Date End Phrase End Page End Percentage Page Count
Week 2 Sept 26th [End Chapter 1] 33 11% 16

Discussion Rules

  • Please use spoiler tags for major events in the current chapter(s) and any content in future chapters.
  • When asking for help, please mention the chapter and page number. Also mention what version of the book you are reading.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking questions, even if they seem embarrassing at first. All of us are here to learn.
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  • I’m reading along
  • I have finished this part
  • I’m still reading the book but I haven’t reached this part yet
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At 7%, there is some mentioning of maths problems. I thought some of you might maybe be interested in reading up on that, so here are some links:

ヒルベルト is a mathematician called Hilbert, and his 13th problem still seems to remain unsolved.

楕円曲線 sounds like Elliptic Curves to me. These are used in cryptography.

I did not find anything related to 解析的方法の失敗; there is something called algebraic fault attack but this seems to refer to the flaws of the algebraic method itself if I’m not mistaken. So if anybody has more insights, I’m happy to hear about them.


I am struggling with keeping motivated with this book, the descriptive language and math terminolgy is just a lot of vocabulary for me! I was keeping notes of any words I didn’t know or couldn’t remember the readings, and ended up with ~200+ for week one. (Is this normal? I really think I’m at an intermediate level but maybe not…)
Does anyone have any advice to combat this?
Thank you

long post

There is quite a bit of new words/concepts for me in this book as well. I’ve never read about maths in Japanese (or much beyond what was necessary for school at all tbh), and the language feels a bit dated. By which I mean there’s not math related language that is unfamiliar, too. :smiley:

While I personally did not reach 200+ unknowns in week 1, whether that is too much depends on how much time and effort you’re willing to spend looking things up and asking questions. The first weeks are also usually the hardest with any book, since you have to get used to the author’s style and word usage. If you can get through the initial bump, it should get easier towards the end of the book. On the other hand you said you’re struggling with motivation already, and maybe that’s a sign the book isn’t for you right now (or at all, which is also fine).

For me, I struggle with the math, but I like the premise and the tone of the story. That makes the struggle worth it for me. (If I also had to look up 200 words a week I’d probably put it to the side for now :sweat_smile:)

As for whether this is normal… Personally I’d say this book is on the difficult side for the intermediate club, compared to the books I’ve read with the club. If you do feel like putting this book to the side for now, you could pick up a past book club pick and use the threads to look up and ask any questions. That’s still helpful, but of course the community aspect will be lacking.

(There’s a thread somewhere rating past picks by difficulty… Off the top of my head, I believe コンピに人間 was among the easiest language wise, while also being very highly rated for enjoyment.)


I am really liking this book so far. It’s so easy to just keep reading and doesn’t get boring or tedious for me at all (so far. we’ll see how it goes when there’s more maths talk). It flows really well and is more engaging and in my subjective opinion uses more natural language than 魔女の宅急便 (looking at you のではありませんか?).
I really hope it stays that way! (only 1,5 weeks in so far, so maybe a bit early to judge)

While I have to look up (and do look up) more words than usual, it doesn’t feel like it’s only scientific terms.

200 words in a week does sound like a lot to me as well. I would probably try to find a book with on average about 3-5 unknown words per page? If I’m reading an ebook, a higher limit would be okay as well.
Also, with such a large amount of unknown vocab, I would really try to filter what to put into Anki/your notes and what to only look up during reading and then forget again.


If I would keep notes of all the unknown words, there would be much more than 200. But I hope that with time, the more frequent words will stick (after I will have looked them up several times) and not all of the others are worth learning by heart.
I am glad to have a litteral translation of this book, so that I can first read a paragraph in German, then figure out how this is said in Japanese. This “cheating” and the built-in Google Translate in the bookwalker app help me to keep the pace of the weekly readings (so far, and with much time and some trouble).

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Did someone say Hilbert?


Sorry. More seriously, I’m trying to finish another thing I’m reading before diving into this. Where does 解析的方法の失敗 appear so I can see some context? It looks something like “analytic method” of something “failure?”

In math, there tends to be a divide between “analytic methods” and “algebraic methods.” One of the surprising things about elliptic curves is that there is a big crossover theory that happens. They naturally appear as complex manifolds but their algebraic structure gives rise to Galois representations. This is how things like the Taniyama-Shimura Conjecture led to the proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.


Depends on what your goal of reading is. Reading is a third of my time, shadowing a third, and Tobira a third. During my reading time I don’t write or record anything down whatsoever. I use my Kindle to instantly look up words, then I can just flow and get familiar with the language. You’re brain processes it differently, I think, in a more productive way than if you are constantly stopping. With constant stopping, I don’t think it links together the words in the right way, and it makes it harder to remember them, and harder to get an intuitive feel for the language. Like @2000kanji said, you’ll naturally remember the words that frequently appear, and the words that only appear once, why bother spending time on them at all right now? Eventually I’ll finish Tobira, and if I don’t move onto another textbook, then I’ll replace the grammar section with one where I painstakingly look up and record new grammar and vocabulary while I read, but I’ll still maintain my “reading for fluency” time.

With the paper copy, maybe just try plowing through a little bit, and only look up words when you see them several times, like 約数. Give that a try, and see how well you can follow along. Maybe you’ll understand a little less, but enjoy it a lot more. Or maybe you won’t understand anything at all. shrug

@Hilbert90. My physics friend has a theory that you should only be allowed to learn so much math. At a certain point, it almost certainly can only be used for evil (Like Catching Paul Revere, which isn’t even that advanced!!) I think you know too much math!!!

On this weeks reading:

  1. Yo lady, easy on the carrots, already.
  2. I have seen some smooth mathematicians and science folk use their powers in this way to impress the ladies. Sometimes it is successful. @Hilbert90??? (Context, pointing out that her birthday 2/20 → 220 was linked to a number special to him, 284, as they are both the sum of each others’ factors)
  3. This chapter taught me that vertical Japanese turned sideways looks really weird.

I’m liking the book so far. I like the pace, and I really like the descriptive style. It really feels like these are real people, in a real place, and I can see it clearly.


I see that you dropped terms like “complex manifolds” and “Galois representations” in there as if they would be illuminating. Perhaps you could illuminate the illuminations?

quote=“Jalanib, post:3, topic:46112”]
Does anyone have any advice to combat this?

This chapter was easier than chapter 2, probably because I’m on the lookout for metaphors. I am also looking up probably 200 words or more (about 20 unfamiliar words per page.) I only make notes if the vocabulary uses kanji I already know. I don’t have time for another anki deck right now, but maybe these will go in one at some point. Otherwise, I’m using “look it up and forget it,” unless I’m having trouble cracking the sentence, in which case I write the definitions in the margins. This book is probably too hard for me, but I don’t quit books.


I know, right? I mean, she’s not his mom. If he hasn’t learned to like carrots by now, he probably won’t.
Also, I wish she told us what she ended up feeding him on the first day. It sounded pretty hopeless.


For some reason, this week’s amount felt like it took much shorter time to read than previous week’s amount, even though this week has more pages :thinking: I guess it is probably due to the typical case with the start of a book being more challenging to read than the rest of the book.