Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Unreasonable Effectiveness

Let's be honest, many of us find math intimidating. But it need not be. I recently explained why linguists should study math; now, over the next several weeks, Steven Strogatz,  professor of applied mathematics at Cornell, will be blogging an informal introduction to the basic concepts of mathematics from pre-school to grad school. He starts with Sesame Street and counting fish to explain the basic idea that numbers are abstractions:

The creative process here is the same as the one that gave us numbers in the first place. Just as numbers are a shortcut for counting by ones, addition is a shortcut for counting by any amount. This is how mathematics grows. The right abstraction leads to new insight, and new power.

This is a NYT blog, so let's hope they don't put it behind their new paywall..

HT kotkke

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