Have you ever craved math?

1. Dec 6, 2015

HizzleT

In college, I majored in Neuroscience but after about two year,
I really started to resent biologists' obsession with memorization.
Moreover, I really started to miss doing math., as I had in high school.

So, I double majored in Applied Math., which was a huge amount of work...so much so, that drive
almost seems irrational to me now. Yet, I just missed the topic and felt a longing to do it.

Has anyone else had a similar experience?

2. Dec 6, 2015

KiggenPig

Absolutely. I developed an obsession for it when I first started studying to go to uni, everything from number crunching to the history of math.

3. Dec 7, 2015

collinsmark

Math is awesome.

Sometimes during morning coffee or later if I happen to be at the pub I'll break out a paper napkin and do math to pass the time.

Most recently I re-derived Euler's product formula for the Riemann zeta function over a couple pints of Guinness.

$$\sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^s} = \prod_{p \ \mathrm{prime}} \frac{1}{1 - p^{-s}}$$

(Although it wasn't a thoroughly rigourus proof. I figure drunken math doesn't necessitate excessive rigour.)

[Edit: If only Guinness helped with finding the real part of those roots (complex values of s that cause the function to equal zero). But alas, no.]

Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
4. Dec 7, 2015

CRichard

Definitely, I hear you!! I also don't like all the memorization involved in biology, and am thinking about changing my major, though I don't know if it's feasible at this point.

5. Dec 7, 2015

dkotschessaa

I will use the new whiteboard feature to express my love of math during the semester.

Example: This is finals week. I have a combinatorics final and a project due in an applied math class that I do not understand. I do not love math very much.
My love for math is likely to return next Monday or Tuesday.

File size:
26.8 KB
Views:
78
6. Dec 7, 2015

dkotschessaa

There is plenty of memorization in math as you get into the higher levels. So I would hope that you would not let that be your primary motivation. Lots of people (including myself) have fallen into the trap of believing that math is "only about understanding stuff."

How close are you to finishing your biology degree?

7. Dec 10, 2015

HizzleT

@CRichard

Two things.
(going to tack on my CRichard reply here too).

1.
I found that in the applied math world, the amount memorization is not that bad.
DEs can be hairy though...a lot of different techniques.
I have nothing but respect for pure math. people. How they memorize 300 page proofs is -- thankfully -- a mystery to me.

2.
I might also add that CRichard may want to consider sticking with biology, and learning math on top.
Double majoring in math typically results in a reduction of the number of biology and math classes you must take.

People in soft sciences love people with strong quantitative backgrounds, especially in fields like virology, genetics, cognitive science/computational neuro. (my world).
[ Just keep the math snobbery to yourself; they hate being told 'theories' aren't really theories until they've been rigorously (mathematically) described. ahah ]

8. Dec 11, 2015

JorisL

I wouldn't say they memorize 300 page proofs. If they remember anything it's novel techniques or use of techniques.
They might remember the outline (e.g. show equivalence to this then do that and finally identify with a solved problem) of such a proof if they really think it's that useful.

wrt your last comment. I understand the sentiment that (full) rigour is nice, it shouldn't be on an equal footing with to the physics or biology.

9. Dec 11, 2015

HizzleT

I know of at least 2 pure math PhDs at my uni who were required to do something like this.
I'm happy to grant it's much more rare than I thought. In all honestly, my knowledge of that world is pretty limited.
Applied and Pure math tracks are pretty separated at my university.

Second, perhaps I was a bit careless the way I wrote that.
I'm not only referring to situations like that with the Dirac Delta Function whereby it was
invented, used to model physical processes, and eventually someone got around to providing a rigorous description 20 years later.

Rather, I'm referring to the fact that most 'theories' in biology are a-mathematical, i.e., they're verbal theories.
I find these to be wildly unsatisfying because they're almost always extremely vague.

Last edited: Dec 11, 2015
10. Dec 11, 2015

JorisL

I should've added a disclaimer that I do not know how widespread such practices are.
I only feel it's not very productive. I recall an analysis course where we had to memorize simple proofs (less than 2 pages).
You could do well that way but I only passed once I was able to reconstruct based on the outline I recalled.
It was a t that moment I truly grasped what was being said in the notes.

I'm not well-versed with specifics of biological theories at all.
I suppose you could say they aren't very open minded. You have psychological approaches to the learning proces which doesn't use maths either.
Are they theories? I would definitely say so.

Can all things biology be described using maths?
Heck no it's way to complicated to do so. If critics of the a-mathematical approach come to terms with that they won't remain critics (I believe).

11. Dec 11, 2015

ChristianG

I know now that I could not live with out maths. So I will be majoring in physics specializing in quantum or particle. Hopefully I can be on the forefront of developing quantum computers

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook