Thu, 12 Feb 1998 12:33:26 -0500
> Mike > ... between a mathematician and a domain expert ...
> > choose the mathematician
> Wes > ... integrals ... to 5 math majors ... they had forgotten how to
> > do that long ago ... ... 2 senior domain engineers: it was
> > impossible to calculate ...
> Of course math majors forgot how to calculate, they use computer
> tools for all calculations and they do the creative thinking and
> problem solving.
I didn't ask them to calculate anything. I needed to write software to do
the calculation. I asked them to critique my "proof" that a certain
algorithm was "correct." In effect, they were saying they (math majors)
did not remember
1. whether integration was the right tool to predict the location of an
object given a previous location, previous velocity, and rate of change of
velocity (where velocity is speed & direction, both changing).
2. whether my integration of some polynomial/trigonometric functions was
3. how to use association, commutation, substitution. factoring, and other
algebraic tricks to determine whether some of my transformations of the
integrals were valid.
4. how to use trigonometric identitities to determine whether my other
transformations were valid.
And the whole thing started because I wouldn't believe the "domain
engineers" who said that the _only_ way to get the location was to
repetitively compute a sufficient number of sufficiently small constant
velocity line segments.
Coding and testing it showed that someone--never having taken a calculus
course, having only an intro to trig fifteen years prior, and algebra
(junior high school) twenty years prior--did in fact accomplish what the
domain engineers said was impossible, and the math majors didn't know how
THAT is why I answered your claim that a mathematician can do anything by
pointing out that a math major is not necessarily a mathematician.