# Mathematics

2019-04-25T05:12:40.148Z

It’s hard to get out of the lazy cycle of going to Butler every day. Even though you slightly hate it, at least it has always been there for you. As you may be realizing now, it can also become increasingly stuffy and draining to study in the same library every day—especially Butler. During midterms and finals season, it’s especially annoying to try to find a seat. So why don’t you try to discover a new library? Who knows, you may just end up finding your new favorite study spot!

... 2018-03-08T07:21:18.604Z

You would probably feel ashamed to admit a deep contempt for literature or an inability to understand moderately complex prose. But people will readily admit that they don’t understand basic mathematical concepts, and chances are if you don’t like math, you’re not shy about it.

... 2014-03-26T14:01:04Z

For Chris Wiggins, an associate professor of applied mathematics, integrating machine learning into biology research already involves working with large sets of data.

... 2013-10-21T01:07:54Z

Last spring, as I strolled back to my office after enjoying a Barney's sandwich, I encountered the familiar sight of a campus tour guide introducing Columbia to a group of nervous high school students. "That is the mathematics building," she said, "Nothing terribly interesting happens there except, of course, the bartending classes in the evening."

... 2013-04-04T06:44:42Z

It has been nearly a year since I last worked with mathematics—with true math, the type that requires an advanced calculator and goes beyond the Frontiers of Science final exam. It's been quite a while since I have gotten lost in solving a math problem, to the point that I am afraid I will forget to speak the mathematical language, that I will lose its logic, its brilliance, its poetry. Before coming to Columbia, I decided to focus my academic career in the humanities, and to avoid any sort of math after high school. I believed I was right-brained, that I believed in words, and that quantitative reasoning was dull. Growing up, I hated math despite being in an advanced program for it, because it was always right or wrong, black or white. I felt as if there was no room for exploration, no room for expressing who I was. Everyone's answers were all expected to be the same, and there was no personality whatsoever in such quantitative topics. I hated the language of mathematics so much that waiting to begin college made me anxious—I couldn't wait to go somewhere where I could avoid math completely. The reason I came to Columbia was that it emphasized everything non-math related. I loved the Core Curriculum: I loved the concept of being part of a group of students who believed in the importance of reading the foundational works of literature, the religious texts of other cultures, and the great works of art. I remember believing that Columbia students would be incredibly well-rounded because those planning on majoring in chemistry or physics would be forced into taking literature classes. All those whom I believed perceived the world quantitatively, one-sidedly and in terms of numbers would not exist at this school because they would be forced to expand their academic horizons beyond those realms. Thus far that has been exactly what has happened. Everyone here is incredibly well-rounded, incredibly knowledgeable in all subjects—that is, with the exception of the hard sciences. For a year I have gotten away with not doing any math, and I know many others have. And as I have come to miss the subject, I have also come to recognize how fundamentally important it should be regarded in everyone's academic life, not just through high school. We study math because it teaches us to think. If those physics and chemistry majors are required to enter the realms of the humanities, should students of the humanities abandon math? Frontiers of Science attempts to introduce quantitative thinking, but my critique against the course is that its math is too basic. It is a course that touches upon a variety of subjects concerning science, but when applied, it uses very basic mathematical principles. I did get to do some basic calculus in high school, but not everyone here did. What scares me is that those right-sided, humanities-oriented brains who come from such backgrounds can probably get away, like me, with not doing any math at all. I believe that at the very least, Calculus I and II should be incorporated into the Core, unless the student proves existing mastery of the content. After thinking about my experience, I have come to the conclusion that it is scary that a person could graduate from Columbia knowing about Mannerist art and not about applied mathematics. Both should be regarded with equal importance. Mathematics has poetry of its own. The language of numbers is universal, and it will communicate more than any foreign language.

... *Andrea Viejo a Columbia College first-year. She is on the executive board of the Columbia Society of International Undergraduate Students and a writer for Nuestras Voces.*From Outside In*runs alternate Mondays.*2013-03-28T03:00:45Z

Problem-solving skills, the most useful types of knowledge one can possess, are best acquired through rigorous math courses. Math is the only subject that is studied in all countries in the world and at all levels of education—it is a basic pillar in the teachings of all other subjects. The reason math has such a universal presence is that it is a powerful, concise, and unambiguous language whose expression is consistently the same, save some notational differences. Because of math's universal importance and the critical thinking skills it fosters, mathematics courses should be given a special place in Columbia's Core Curriculum. Instead of having three science requirements, the university should have one math requirement and two science requirements—because, after all, math is indispensable to most science classes. Problem solvers are the most successful people in life. Since life is about constant confrontations and conflicts, those equipped with strong problem-solving skills will have higher resolution rates in the real world. Through weekly problem sets, students train their minds to develop methods of critical thinking in order to most efficiently solve the problems and obtain reasonable solutions. This skill is one that transcends its use in the realm of mathematics and applies to daily life. In the book "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid," Douglas Hofstadter says that the basic capacities of intelligence are enhanced by the study of mathematics, and after the successful resolution of the first problem, that sense of accomplishment becomes an addictive phenomenon that propels mathematical discovery. I believe that every Columbian should experience at least a semester's worth of that addiction. It seems extraordinary to me that Columbia students can graduate without ever taking a math course. Schools like the University of Chicago have a math requirement for all students because they understand the value of the mathematical language for any other scientific study, or even for popular majors such as economics. But most importantly, the University of Chicago refuses to allow its students to obtain a diploma without some familiarity with a language that they will use for the rest of their lives. When I asked current University of Chicago sophomore Travis Benaiges what he thought about Columbia's policy, he said, "I can't believe that Columbia, a school known for a core as rigorous as ours, lacks any mention of mathematics as necessary for graduation when indeed it is the core of science and is therefore more fundamental than science itself." Albert Einstein, who was a math failure in his early years, said, "Do not worry about your problems with mathematics. I assure you mine are far greater." As it turns out, Einstein had to resort to mathematics to prove his influential theories and in fact confessed that it was mathematics and not physics that allowed him to invent and discover, construct and conclude. Sure, not everyone's brain is wired to easily understand numbers and their properties, but everyone should at least try to know basic calculus, especially since we have a University Writing course that some students could claim their brains aren't easily wired for either. The truth is some people don't like to write as much as others don't like to derive, but both the art of writing and the art of problem solving are instrumental and necessary for a successful and enriched life. Students should be acquainted with math to analyze daily life situations, such as whether it is better to buy or lease a car based on the rates of interest, how to best put one's money to work by looking at simple versus compound interests and managing accounts, how the returns of stocks work, how to communicate data visually, and numerous other applications that math sheds light on. By excluding math from the core, Columbia is sending a dismissive message about the importance of the skills math offers students and is indirectly categorizing it as less valuable to an undergraduate experience than courses on writing, literature, and culture.

... *The author is a Columbia College sophomore.*