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Math is Good

2004-12-17

Category: philosophies

I'm a happy camper. Ok, I'm not actually camping, but I am done with all of my final exams. That's a huge relief, at least till next semester.

For those who don't know, I'm a junior in college where I major in Computer Science and Mathematics. It's a very good thing. I'm pretty good at the computer science stuff however the math kicks my butt. I only got an 85% on the Calculus III final. (I know; you have no sympathy.)

Now I have a couple of weeks before I start my January class. I get to study Genetic Algorithms. "What's that?" you ask. Well, with genetic algorithms use the concepts of selective breeding to mix-and-match parts of programs to arrive at an optimal solution. It's sort of like program husbandry. Things go really fine until you accidentally breed a program that is indestructible and goes on a murderous rampage, but for some people it's just another Tuesday night.

My actual spring semester starts in February. I have two math classes then, Linear Algebra and Graph Theory. The graph one is a cross over class with the computer science side of things. All that may seem like a lot of math but it's nothing compared with later. See, I'm almost done with all my computer classes but I still need credit hours to finish the degree. That's where the math comes in.

The extra credit hours I needed were enough to meet the requirements for another major. Since my school doesn't have an Economics degree program, I went with math. Fall semester of 2005 and spring of 2004 will be all math all the time. I will be taking almost entirely math classes for those semesters. I expect to be mostly insane at that the end of that time. Fortunately, I'll graduate then and have time for therapy.

Most people have no use for that much math education. I hear often, "I don't like math," or "I just don't do math well." It usually seems like math is the toughest subject while you're studying it. However, as you get to each level all the previous levels seem easier. For example, Algebra seemed to take a lot of effort while taking the class. When taking Pre-Calculus, all the Algebra stuff happened easily though the pre-calc was really hard. By the time you get to Calculus one, all the pre-calc stuff is old hat. It just keeps doing that at each level. If you ever have to study math, always remember that it only seems hard in that class but it'll be easier later. You should persevere; it'll be worth it in the long run.

Math really opens up a new world of understanding. When you see the science shows on public television, if you have the math you really understand a lot more of what they are talking about. When people discuss Economics or Genetics or Physics, the better your math knowledge the better you'll understand it. I look at the ripples in the curtains in my apartment and imagine the math that describes those shapes. It's a beautiful world.

Anyway, if you get the chance to study more maths, please do. It really is worth the effort. As for me, I'm laying off the math for a couple of weeks to prepare to really dive in later.


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