View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Dec 17, 2017 3:50 am



Reply to topic  [ 3 posts ] 
How valuable is it to learn math deeply? 
Author Message
User avatar

Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 2:10 pm
Posts: 445
Location: Juneau, AK
Post How valuable is it to learn math deeply?
This post at Less Wrong set me thinking about how Castor and Pollux got deeply into math in The Rolling Stones:

Quote:
I understood the physical world, the human world, and myself in a way that I had never before. Reality seemed full of limitless possibilities. Those months were the happiest of my life to date. More prosaically, my academic performance improved a lot, and I found it much easier to understand technical content (physics, economics, statistics etc.) ever after.

So in my own case, learning math deeply had very high returns.


Heinlein implies in many places that knowing math is a sort of litmus test for being a real human being. As part of a new personal initiative I call "After 50", I'm beginning calculus right now.

Anyone who doesn't know it already want to join me? You don't even have to be over 50! :)

_________________
"There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk 'his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor' on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else."


Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:21 pm
Profile
Heinlein Nexus
User avatar

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:10 am
Posts: 2233
Location: Pacific NorthWest
Post Re: How valuable is it to learn math deeply?
RobertPearson wrote:
TAs part of a new personal initiative I call "After 50", I'm beginning calculus right now.


You have the luxury of not having to study for the sake of tests, so I encourage you to really dig into where calculus comes from and the essence of the field rather than the rote formulae. This is how I learned it in high school. When you follow the trail blazed by Newton and Leibnitz and see how they made the logical leap from smaller and smaller differences to the concept of infinitesimally small differences, you stand in awe of their ginormous genius. What we have reduced to the simplicity of something an 8th-grader can grasp was for them a mental Moonshot. We ache and gripe about understanding calculus, but the idea that calculus simply did not exist until these math moguls expanded their brains and the future of the human race to encompass it.... is beyond humbling.


Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:10 pm
Profile WWW
Centennial Attendee
User avatar

Joined: Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:46 am
Posts: 541
Location: Aurora, IL, USA, Terra
Post Re: How valuable is it to learn math deeply?
RobertPearson wrote:
Heinlein implies in many places that knowing math is a sort of litmus test for being a real human being.

Baloney. He was being a snob.

That said, there are satisfying rewards to be had from the new insights about the world and the new skills that the study of math can give you.

One sees the world in a different way-- just as study of drawing and painting can change one's perception. One of Neal Stephenson's strengths as a novelist is portraying the inside of the head of a mathematically-trained person.
Quote:
As part of a new personal initiative I call "After 50", I'm beginning calculus right now.

Anyone who doesn't know it already want to join me? You don't even have to be over 50! :)

I wish you joy on your journey!

_________________
Bill Higgins
bill.higgins@gt.org
http://beamjockey.livejournal.com


Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:12 pm
Profile WWW
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 3 posts ] 

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF