5/21/2011 Quote of the Day – Why Study Math?

I just came across the following video from WeUseMath.org. The site aims to answer the question “When will I use math?”

Today’s quote of the day is from David Bailey (at 4:52 in the video).

It’s worth doing. It’s something that, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I wish I didn’t take so much math.”

I cannot recall anyone I know expressing regret for taking too many math courses, but I have heard people express regret for taking too few.

I’m reminded of the following quote from Paul Graham.

But while you don’t literally need math for most kinds of hacking, in the sense of knowing 1001 tricks for differentiating formulas, math is very much worth studying for its own sake. It’s a valuable source of metaphors for almost any kind of work. I wish I’d studied more math in college for that reason.

Undergraduation [March 2005]

The video also reminded me of the following quote from Steven Landsburg.

If you enjoy mathematics, and have a knack for it, you cannot go wrong by taking math courses no matter where you think you’re eventually headed. Top-ranked economics Ph.D. programs almost always prefer to admit students with strong math backgrounds over students with strong economics backgrounds; I’m told the same is true in biology and I suspect it’s the same way in many other disciplines. In the economics department where I teach, we frequently admit math majors with few (or even zero!) economics courses on their transcripts; we would never admit an economics major with inadequate math training.

The Big Questions, p. 240 [2009]

Fortunately, with all the free courses available on the internet, it’s now possible to take more math (for free!). Check out the OCW Consortium site for information on available courses. For another example of mathematicians faring well, check out the Wall Street Journal’s 2009 article, Doing the Math to Find the Good Jobs.

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