Monday, November 19, 2007


Overcoming Bias: The Simple Math of Everything: "t seems to me that there's a substantial advantage in knowing the drop-dead basic fundamental embarrassingly simple mathematics in as many different subjects as you can manage. Not, necessarily, the high-falutin' complicated damn math that appears in the latest journal articles. Not unless you plan to become a professional in the field. But for people who can read calculus, and sometimes just plain algebra, the drop-dead basic mathematics of a field may not take that long to learn. And it's likely to change your outlook on life more than the math-free popularizations or the highly technical math."

1 comment:

Jamie Irons said...

After reading the article you point us toward and the accompanying comments, I'm tempted to ask, What's wrong with F = ma ?.

(I mean "what's wrong with..." in the sense of "why should we feel we have to apologize for...")

My own understanding of math only extends through multivariate calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra, much of which I've forgotten, but I've always felt that we over-emphasize the degree of understanding that (relatively) complicated math confers on one who understands the subject.

(I'm referring here only to applied, not pure, mathematics).

To the extent that the math leads to useful predictions, of course it is thereby validated, but prediction and comprehension (whatever the latter may be) are not the same thing.

To me (again, keeping in mind my severe limitations in this respect), I think it is the F = ma sorts of mathematical elucidation which point toward the deeper mysteries.

Why, after all, should such an elegant and beautiful equation be so darned true?


Jamie Irons