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comment by bfv

    Math academia is weird to me. In physics, researchers insist that there are applications to even esoteric problems, often to a fault. Mathematicians,on the other hand, often get offended at the idea that math needs to be created to solve other problems, that rather, math is done because it is elegant and beautiful, and if it happens to be useful to someone outside math that's just an unintended side effect.

Tradition. Math as we do it goes back to the original Academy, the one Plato started. For most of its history, math was all about the mathematician, you studied math because studying math made you better. We didn't even start thinking about applications in math education until the industrial revolution meant we needed factory workers who knew a little math and it was just assumed that you didn't want to try to teach the proles how to think.

Someone who had begun to to read geometry with Euclid, when he had learnt the first theorem, asked Euclid, "what shall I get by learning these things?" Euclid called his slave and said, "Give him threepence, since he must make gain out of what he learns."




Odder  ·  974 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I know a bit of the history, but not much. From what I understand math was basically the backbone of the whole quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) throughout the whole middle ages and the renaissance. It's just weird that math is still thought of that way, even though it is often grouped in with the sciences rather than liberal arts.

bfv  ·  974 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Where they're in separate colleges, math is often in the same college as the liberal arts rather than the physical sciences.