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Stock Trader Sleeping At Multiple Computer's Desk

More Hard Math Does Not Necessarily Mean More Useful Solutions

It is sometimes tempting to overemphasize the math and underemphasize the relevance

Math is said to be the language of science in that most (but definitely not all) scientific models of the world involve mathematical equations. The Pythagorean theorem, the normal distribution, Einstein’s energy-mass equivalence, Newton’s second law of motion, Newton’s universal law of gravitation, Planck’s equation. How could any of these remarkable models be expressed without math? Unfortunately, it is sometimes tempting to overemphasize the math and underemphasize the relevance. The brilliance of the models listed above lies not in mathematical pyrotechnics but, if anything, in their breath-taking simplicity. Useful models help us understand the world and make reliable predictions. Math for the sake of math does neither. Examples of mindless math are legion. I will give three very different examples. Read More ›

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The Hyper-Specialization of University Researchers

So many papers are published today in increasingly narrow specialties that, if there is still a big picture, hardly anyone can see it

The Bible warns that, “Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” Nowadays, the endless making of books is dwarfed by the relentless firehose of academic research papers. A 2010 study published in the British Medical Journal reported that the U.S. National Library of Medicine includes 113,976 papers on echocardiography — which would weary the flesh of any newly credentialed doctor specializing in echocardiography: We assumed that he or she could read five papers an hour (one every 10 minutes, followed by a break of 10 minutes) for eight hours a day, five days a week, and 50 weeks a year; this gives a capacity of 10000 papers in one year. Read More ›