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Do i need to be a mental calculator?

  1. May 19, 2013 #1
    I was wondering if i need to be a mental calculator to pursue my career in theoretical physics or mathematics?
    I mean im not terrible at calculating math problems like 17 x 24 in my head but i am not super fast at calculating in my head problems a bit harder than that.
    If so which field should i choose?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2013 #2


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  4. May 19, 2013 #3
    I agree with jk. No.
  5. May 19, 2013 #4
    Could i Get some reasoning?
  6. May 19, 2013 #5
    A very, very small fraction of physicists or mathematicians are mental calculators.
  7. May 19, 2013 #6


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    Staff Emeritus
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    There are many famous mathematicians who are bad at mental calculations:

    And Grothendieck is one of the absolute greatest mathematicians ever.
  8. May 19, 2013 #7


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    Did he program the computer that gave 42 as the answer to 6X9?
  9. May 19, 2013 #8


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    OP, you shouldn't spend time on *ANYTHING* a computer can do much, much better than you. Especially mental calculation is a completely useless skill[1].

    Getting better at something requires resources, like time. Spending them on something like this means you won't be able to invest them into something which might actually help you!

    [1] I mean exact calculations. Of course it can be useful to be able to coarse estimates.
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