For those of you who do a lot of maths, why?

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  • #51
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Firstly, life is not "trivial" compared to mathematics.
I never knew if this quotation was genuine :
John von Neumann said:
If people do not believe that mathematics is simple, it is only because they do not realize how complicated life is.
 
  • #52
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What level of study of maths are you on at the moment?
Almost done 3rd year honors, which includes complex and real analysis. I've done basic abstract algebra, but I still need to take a real course in it (I am behind in my algebra). I have basic topology and diff. geometry under my belt. By next year Ill have PDE and maybe general diff geometry, and hopefully Archimedes Works down.

That's not a sense of superiority, but is merely a sense of achievement.

I have to disagree with this. Firstly, life is not "trivial" compared to mathematics. Secondly, one does not need to give up a social life in order to study mathematics. I have an degree in mathematics and, whilst I perhaps spent more time studying than some of the people I lived with, I certainly did not give up on having a social life!!

Rubbish: mathematics will only damage your ability to write if you let it. Then again, the mere fact that you call non-mathematicians "ordinary people" tells me that you have succumbed to the stereotypes.


Why can't one do both?
I didn't say life is trivial. It depends on how you define life though. If your idea of life is going to parties every week then yes, that is trivial. You obviously still need to have friends. But lately I've noticed it annoys me when my group of friends invite me to see a movie or something. I go for the sake of being with my friends, but I much prefer us working on a hard problem or something.

I still stand by saying that a lot of math people give up social lives, especially when learning it. I don't know what sort of math you've done, because from what I know you are a physicist. All I know is in honors math some people even forget their own age, and I never hear them talk about how trashed they got over the weekend... something I hear a lot in biology.

And math, more than any other subject, does have its own language. That doesn't make a person who studies math superior to say a scientist, but it does mean that one gets used to absolute logic that has little use in social interactions. I was using ordinary people in the context as ones you would socialize with, ie. people at a bar or club.
 
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  • #53
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If your idea of life is going to parties every week then yes, that is trivial.
This discussion has little point in my understanding. Why would that be restricted to mathematicians in particular ? Anybody has the right to spoil his life with clubbing. Anybody dedicated (to anything serious, creative) has the right to think those people loose their time. However, if you talk to a clubber he will very likely disagree with you and think the other person is loosing his time and has not realized how short life is.

As you say, and this is crucial : it depends on how you define life. Your definition is no more valid than other people's definition.
 
  • #54
cristo
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I go for the sake of being with my friends, but I much prefer us working on a hard problem or something.
Well, that's your prerogative, but I don't see why anyone would want to study all the time.

I still stand by saying that a lot of math people give up social lives, especially when learning it. I don't know what sort of math you've done, because from what I know you are a physicist.
Mainly applied/math physics (relativity, quantum theory, fluid mechanics, electromagnetism, etc..), but I also studied a fair amount of pure mathematics (alegbra, analysis (real and complex) differential geometry, pde's, etc..) Anyway, from my experience, students do not "give up their social lives" whilst studying. Yes, of course, study takes time, but not 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And math, more than any other subject, does have its own language. That doesn't make a person who studies math superior to say a scientist, but it does mean that one gets used to absolute logic that has little use in social interactions. I was using ordinary people in the context as ones you would socialize with, ie. people at a bar or club.
This seems to be a pretty serious problem that I have only really noticed by frequenting this forum: namely that a lot of scientists (or science students) do not know how to socialise. I've never found this problem in real life, but then again I may just not talk to the ones that aren't good at socialising! An extremely important thing, in my opinion, is the ability to socialise with people who are not mathematicians/physicists. I've got lots of friends who do not have the slightest clue about anything scientific, but that doesn't stop me having conversations with them, or socialising with them. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I would class myself (and the other mathematicians/physicists I know well enough to have a conversation with) as "ordinary" people. Afterall, everyone has a job, but there is no need to talk about it all the time!
 
  • #55
tgt
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This seems to be a pretty serious problem that I have only really noticed by frequenting this forum: namely that a lot of scientists (or science students) do not know how to socialise.
The reason for some not socialising could be more to do with them having some kind of mental condition which prohibits them or makes socialising extremely uncomfortable. The ones that don't have this mental condition should be able to adequately socialise.
 

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