Zen and Calculators

From an applied mathematics point of view, I have to admit (and as odd as this sounds) I never really thought I would have to dabble into so much pure mathematics.  Throughout my math and engineering college career, I have learned that calculators and students share a special bond.

Experiencing a strong British education before choosing the United States for my tertiary studies, the closest I had come to using calculators was when I had to plug in decimals that I could not calculate by hand fast enough.  Then I came to Florida Tech.  I found that some of the engineering courses I took turned me into this calculator-dependent person.  In all honesty, working on engineering problems without a calculator is torture.  Little did I know that the math I was about to do would deprive me of the joys of furthering my calculator knowledge.

I can actually count on one hand the number of math courses that allow the use of calculators.  We have a running joke in our math classes, that we get ridiculously excited the moment we see numbers.  High-level mathematics is set up to force one to be dependent on one’s own critical thinking skills to solve complex problems.  It’s not like computational mathematics that offer the benefit of a formula to lean on. The proof-based courses I am taking this semester are quite wonderful in themselves.  The jump from being very number-dependent to swimming in this ocean of non-existent numbers is quite intimidating.

The mere fact that we learn about the origins of all the formulas we have been through in the past is mind-expanding.  Naturally, there are so many concepts to learn and it’s quite hard to wrap your mind around this at times.  I have learned that the reason I love my calculator so much is because it gives me the security of knowing I have numbers to work with and I sure do love my numbers.

Now, it’d be amazing if they would come up with calculators that could perform proofs, but if that were the case, what would we be needed for?

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