I remember a High School math class in Freshman year where another kid asked the teacher “Does any of this stuff have any relevance to what we’ll be doing in life? Basic math, OK, but when are we gonna learn how to use the cosine?” And I spoke up and replied “We’re not, but our parents are paying school taxes, and they want to think we’re learning really advanced stuff, so the school teaches us stuff that our parents haven’t used in so long that they’ve forgotten it exists.”
The teacher gave me a look, and then a very, very small nod.
I’m reminded of the procedure a computer science prof taught us to solve differential equations:
1. Ask somebody.
2. Look it up in a book.
3. Try e^x.
4. As a last resort, use a computer.
This was back in the days of punch-card programming. Nowadays you probably just use Mathematica or MathCad.
Using a search engine to get the answer is cheating. They point is to solve it yourself.
Math is still useful. If Peter is more serious about it, he could expand his opportunities. Rather than simply pump gas, he could be the guy behind the bulletproof glass processing customers’ credit cards.
Math is all around us from flying birds to wind blowing to the geometry of the buildings.
ironic that this was 11 years ago, the more things change the more they stay the same
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