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Math and Computers

  1. Jul 22, 2010 #1
    Although useful, I feel as though computers denigrate the purity of mathematics. There is something rather romantic about doing mathematics while sitting in a candlelit room with pen in hand free from the hum of a computer fan. Does anyone feel the same way?
     
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  3. Jul 22, 2010 #2

    Evo

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    I don't know about doing math, but the candlelight scene was very comforting.
     
  4. Jul 22, 2010 #3
    Hi there,

    Never forget that the computer will not the math for you. Nowadays, like you pointed out, the blacklikght of a computer screen replaced the candel light, but the math is still done the same way.
     
  5. Jul 22, 2010 #4

    BobG

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    I can do math by candlelight. I'll even let you play with my slide rule.

    (By the way, doing math with a pen? That's very bold and confident.)
     
  6. Jul 28, 2010 #5
    Computers bring math to life. The history's greatest mathematicians would condemn you as a fool for doing math the archaic way when having such a device at your disposal.
     
  7. Jul 28, 2010 #6
    Imagine if Ramanujan had a computer instead of hurricane lamps
     
  8. Jul 28, 2010 #7

    Evo

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    Oooooh.
     
  9. Jul 28, 2010 #8

    Office_Shredder

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    Why not go all the way back to drawing circles in the sand with a stick?
     
  10. Jul 28, 2010 #9

    Gokul43201

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    Wow! All this dissing on the OP for expressing a hardly unreasonable opinion - that computers are useful, but take away from the charm of doing paper and pen work.
     
  11. Jul 28, 2010 #10
    The running joke in my math department is that everyone is doing mathematics in the closet with the light off.
     
  12. Jul 30, 2010 #11

    Mech_Engineer

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    I personally find nothing romantic or charming about doing math on paper in a candle lit room. In my opinion the faster a problem can be solved, so much the better. I could spend 2 days inverting a 10x10 matrix, or I can let a computer invert a 3,000,000x3,000,000 matrix for me in about an hour...

    :devil:
     
  13. Jul 30, 2010 #12
    I don't do math by candlelight, I'm more of a jug of wine, loaf of bread kind of guy. I use candlelight for computer work. For romance, my wife and I like to ..., well never mind, that's between her and me.
     
  14. Jul 30, 2010 #13

    DaveC426913

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    Ah, but who gets the credit? You? Or the computer?
     
  15. Jul 30, 2010 #14
    If I'm not wrong, Wiles used a computer in the proof of Fermat's Last Theorom. He still got the credit.
     
  16. Jul 30, 2010 #15

    Office_Shredder

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    As long as you aren't dumb enough to name your computer, it can't get itself on the authors list
     
  17. Jul 30, 2010 #16

    DaveC426913

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    Yeah, I simply meant to Mech_Engineer. Would he be satisfied and proud of his accomplishment, if his only involvement was to feed the numbers in (kind of like an assistant to the computer).
     
  18. Jul 30, 2010 #17
    The hardware enables you to quickly test the math you develop. As such, it is invaluable.
     
  19. Jul 30, 2010 #18
    Anyone doing math on paper (with the notable exception of doing it for learning purposes: everyone should do an example by hand at least once) that can be done on the computer is wasting their time. That's not to say that every math problem can be solved on a computer.

    A computer is a tool which allows you to leverage and focus your intelligence to much greater effect. In much the same way a hammer leverages your strength of arm and focuses it into extremely high pressures at the head of a nail. You might as well say that pushing nails in with your bare hands is "romantic". Someone might get a nail in that way eventually, but it's still a waste of time.

    Add to that the fact that there are many problems which would simply be impossible without a computer (like the previously mentioned diagonalization problem).
     
  20. Jul 30, 2010 #19
    On many occasions I've used a computer to help me understand and solve math problems that would have been difficult or impossible for me to do otherwise. I'm interested in contour integration over multifunctions. In my opinion nothing better helps one understand this than the ability to draw the functions and that would be extremely difficult without a computer. Here's an example, an annular region of the real part of the inverse of a 12th degree polynomial. It's beautiful isn't it? Now, what's:

    [tex]\mathop\oint\limits_{\text{Red}} f^{-1}(z)dz[/tex]

    Easier when you can see it isn't it?
     

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  21. Jul 30, 2010 #20
    :D! What a visual there! What a genius!

    I prefer my computers. Thank you. Computers are tools. They allow you to store a part of your thoughts in a retrievable, visual form elsewhere while you go and think about some other pertinent issue.

    It is also the great democratizer. Some people are not born with the kind of memory and focus that the classical brilliance had, but computers help them achieve similar levels of genius. (Think S. Jobs)

    And finally, don't forget the new emphasis/glamor that computers have brought to theoretical mathematics.
     
  22. Jul 30, 2010 #21

    Pythagorean

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    A lot of the low hanging fruit was picked when computers weren't available. Nowadays, a computer us a ladder to the higher hung fruit.
     
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