Hi everypony,
I'm going to try to make this short... I still have a lot of work to do tonight and it is already past 2 in the morning. I am certain that this thread, which I have aptly named "Mathematical Nerds?" will turn into a bit of a rant for some, while those who aren't quite as mathematically inclined (not that that's a bad thing, I am quite jealous of the writers, artists, etc. in the crowd!) may look at with disgust, but after certain consideration I have decided to see to it's conception. As such, a brief explanation of the sole purpose of this thread is in order: This thread is to enable those of you who have quite nerdy, mathematical lives, to vent about the irritations that one might come across when discussing mathematical concepts in one's daily life. It also is to discuss mathematics at any level, or share any opinions on the matter (ie. do you like math? hate it? etc.)
Don't feel a need to read my huge rant below btw. it's full of irritation and frustration, and not much that is good. But if you want to read it, please do Some of you may have some similar stories too.
Without further ado, let me begin with the first (and perhaps only) rant on the matter...
The discussion begins to a point my freshman year of college while happily walking back to my dormitory. I overhear the kids in front of me talking about some mathematical concepts, which I believed to be related to my multivariable calculus class or perhaps my course on differential equations. Anyway, my ears perked up being the math nerd that I am and to my horror this was what I overheard: "... and then you just use Yuler's method for...". I don't quite recall what the actual topic of the conversation was, but I presume something like that. Regardless, the students butchered Euler's name. For those of you who don't know, Euler is pronounced "Oiler", not "Yuler", and this, I'm sure, a source of great discomfort for professors in mathematics and related fields. Considering Euler is one of the greatest and most influential mathematicians ever, it's rather shocking to hear his name pronounced as such at the collegiate level, let alone a prestigious technical institute, where it seems Euler's name comes up in almost every class offered.
Now, fast forward a couple years, and we get to my Junior year of college. I look at one of my homeworks, which asks me to take the Jacobian of a quaternion. This baffled me at the time (and still does to some degree... Never quite grasped quaternions), so I asked a friend who was enrolled in a computer graphics course and is, as such, exposed to quaternions on what I would imagine a near daily basis. She looks at it and says, "Oh, yeah, I mean I know what a quaternion is, but a Jacobian of a quaternion? That doesn't make any sense. I know what a Jacobian is, but you can't take a Jacobian of a quaternion." To that I ask, "Do you know what a Jacobian is?" "Yeah, of course. It's like that 'r' and such that you multiply when doing coordinate transformations." Table flip. Sure, Jacobians are useful for coordinate transformations. Also, it might be partially my own fault for not clarifying, but the problem, which just said to "find the Jacobian of the quaternion" should have made it clear that it referred to the Jacobian matrix, not the Jacobian determinant. I believe this to be an example of mathematical incompetence of a rather annoying sort; the assumption that because one understands a single use case of a concept, or has seen a term thrown around by a couple equations or a term, that one fully understands the concept at a deep level. I don't mind a lack of mathematical knowledge. I know that there is a lot that I don't know myself, and I also don't feel I actually understand most of what I can blabble off. But what does get to me is the cocky attitude that one understands the concept fully, when one has clearly only seen its use in a limited scope.
Alright, I just wanted to get that off my chest, and I'd like to open the floor up to all sorts of interesting mathematical discussion