BetterExplained helps you truly understand new concepts. Let’s move beyond mechanical descriptions and share the Aha! moments that make learning fun.
The guiding philosophy is this Einstein quote: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
If an intuition-first approach resonates with you, you’ll feel right at home. There’s no pretenses, no fuddy teacher, just an excited friend sharing what actually made an idea click.
About Kalid Azad
I’m an extremely curious person and love sharing insights with others. While studying Computer Science at Princeton University I started a site to explain concepts as I would have liked to learn them. BetterExplained is a continuation of that idea.
After college I spent a few years at Microsoft as a program manager, developed InstaCalc (a real-time, shareable calculator), founded a Y Combinator startup, and currently do software development for MindTouch. Feel free to reach me via my contact form. I’ve done a few interviews:
- Interview with Greatschools
- Interview with White Group Maths
- Interview on the Developer Tea Podcast:
Developer Tea Interview (Part 1, 30 mins)
Developer Tea Interview (Part 2, 60 mins)
In terms of mathematical maturity, I’ve done well in school (graduated with honors, 99th percentile in GMAT/GRE/SAT) but am not a professional mathematician. I’m an impassioned amateur figuring out my path to lifelong learning, always looking to improve my understanding, and happy to have you along.
I’m grateful to report the site reaches 400k monthly visitors, is assigned as reading in dozens of university courses, and has been referenced in Science Magazine, along with the blogs for the New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American, and the National Academy of Sciences. The books Math, Better Explained and Calculus, Better Explained are well-received Amazon bestsellers.
A few notable appearances:
- Steven Strogatz
- Scientific American
- Science Magazine (Sam Wang)
- Courses from Stanford, CMU, UC Berkeley, MIT Thesis, UW, hundreds of academic websites
- The Guardian, Businessweek, New York Times Numberplay
- Google Scholar
Thoughts On Learning
Ideas start hard and finish simple. Complicated ideas get easier. Why? Well, the idea is the same, our thinking process has improved. Multiplication flummoxed the Romans until a number system came along. I know that math, science, business, or any topic can become intuitive after overcoming the initial complexity.
The best teacher is you – after you’ve learned the subject. You, 10 minutes after learning a new idea, are the perfect tutor for your current self. You overcame the difficulties and can explain the solution in language that makes sense. We can’t go back in time, but we can capture Aha! moments as soon as they happen. Some lucky soul can avoid the pothole we just climbed out of.
Get a map, not directions. Memorization isn’t understanding: you follow the recipe, apply the formula, and get from A to B without knowing why. Directions “work”, but what about wrong turns? A new destination? Helping a friend who’s lost at point C, not A? This site is about sharing maps, the intuitions that get you from any point to any other point. We’ll leave the raw details for the encyclopedias.
I still don’t know (and that’s OK with me). Learning is a constant process of updating what you thought you knew. Gaps aren’t “holes” to be ashamed of, they are leaks in your roof that you can patch up. I love finding mistakes in my thinking: it’s one less misconception.
I’m still far from a real understanding of most ideas, and that’s where you come in. I’m always scrounging for more insights, so send ’em along :).
Note For Students/Educators
BetterExplained is a grocery store of explanations that have worked for me. Please print, excerpt, quote, or modify any text, images, or videos that you like (example: supplemental reading or even part of your lessons). I’m growing tomatoes, eat them whole or work them into your own creations.
Content is freely available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.
For commercial use, please contact me.