One of the reasons people don’t understand maths is they don’t have enough time

20 Dec

How to think about…
Mathematics

15 December 2014 by Catherine de Lange
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Mathematics has a fearsome rep as the
discipline of iron logic. But for its
practitioners sometimes the best way to
think clearly is to think vaguely

Mathematics is like a language – but one
that, thanks to its inbuilt logic, writes itself.
That’s how mathematician Ian Stewart sees
it, anyway. “You can start writing things
down without knowing exactly what they
are, and the language makes suggestions to
you.” Master enough of the basics, and you
rapidly enter what sports players call “the
zone”. “Suddenly it gets much easier,”
Stewart says. “You’re propelled along.”

But what if you don’t have such a maths
drive? It’s wrong to think it’s all down to
talent, says mathematician and writer Alex
Bellos: even the best exponents can take
decades to master their craft. “One of the
reasons people don’t understand maths is
they don’t have enough time,” he says.

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