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View Diary: The algebra formula that saved an industry (258 comments)

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  •  Well, it depends upon your point of view. (5+ / 0-)

    If by math you mean "arithmetic", then should you wish to compute tips, balance your checkbooks, maybe even identify which bag of walnuts is really cheaper, then, yeah, doing it in your head is important.

    However, mathematics is a much larger discipline than that, something that is rarely properly communicated to people outside of the hard sciences.  Ironically, there is a great art to it.  In stark contrast to the cookbook, turn-the-crank formulas we all learned in elementary school, in many cases an almost preternatural intuition is required to make progress.  Something that, as in art, usually comes in equal parts from experience and innate talent.  And like art, there is true beauty in it when all things fall into place, part of a greater whole, each piece a separate face of a deeper truth.  This is rarely done in one's head.

    Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

    by zephron on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 11:11:04 AM PDT

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    •  One of my degrees is in math (6+ / 0-)

      I know precisely whereof you speak about the rush that occurs when you "see" how equations can be used to describe an underlying physical truth.

      I still contend that the ability to speedily do grade school arithmetic in your head is helpful in getting to the epiphany.

      In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

      by blue aardvark on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 11:44:40 AM PDT

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      •  Indeed. No argument there. (4+ / 0-)

        I suppose, I would like to see kids also learning more about more complicated concepts that better represent Mathematics and its relationship to the natural world.  All to often ailure to appreciate Mathematics derives from failure to understand its potential.  This can be remedied.

        Also, some of the best mathematicians I know are piss poor at arithmetic!

        Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

        by zephron on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 11:49:25 AM PDT

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      •  one of my inspirations about math and 'rithmetic (4+ / 0-)

        was a local grocer (the 1950s) who did almost all sales in his head. And in those days all the locals would run tabs 'till the end of the month. We'd just put stuff on the counter and he'd say "that'll be $1.32". He'd write the prices on a slip of paper and give it to us to keep, and a copy in his book, but he was never wrong.

        As a consequence I've always sort of kept a reasonableness tally in my head when shopping, and more than a few times the Scanner/Register will say "23.45" and I'll go "Wait, that can't be right...I don't know what the exact answer is, but that isn't it..."

        Without geometry, life is pointless. And blues harmonica players suck.

        by blindcynic on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 12:59:46 PM PDT

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        •  A real feeling of power, knowing when there is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens

          a gross messup and saving $10 and up.

          What is fun is walking up and putting money on the counter, including tax.  The total comes up and the stack gets pushed.   looks on faces are worth the bit of mental stretching

          Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through. Jonathan Swift

          by maybeeso in michigan on Mon Apr 19, 2010 at 05:46:04 PM PDT

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