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No way, gotta know math

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Can you be smart/ intelligent without knowing math?
Can you consider someone smart and intelligent if they werent good at math?
Lets say they knew a lot of stuff, great writing, thinking etc. Had deep and profound knowledge of history, philosophy, law, economics, (without delving into mathematic formulas) literature, spoke several languages, etc but had bad math skills?

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Yes. It's different regions of the brain that are responsible for maths, grammar, etc. I am not too good at math, but my analytical skills are very good. I'm just not great at that sequential logical thinking process involved with numbers.
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I'm not sure how to answer this. My personal definition for being intelligent is the ability to solve problems. I think to be good at math, this ability is intrinsic and therefore if you are good at math you are intelligent.
However, I do know some very intelligent (by my own definition) people who I do not think are good at math, but I don't know for sure. We don't sit around the nurse's desk in the ER talking about complex integration with multivariables.
Not sure where I stand exactly on this one. I'm leaning toward yes.
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math = repetition until you master it....it's not a measure of intelligence. Why are most asians (no racist) in eastern countries so good at math and playing instruments at an early age? Because they're forced to repeat everything over and over again...doesn't mean they're intelligent. Intelligence is the measure of how quickly you can learn something and apply that to real life or come up with new ideas. If you can prove a new theorem in a different way, then you're intelligent
EDIT: Math in terms of computational math, and not applied math
Last edited by Rela89; 04112011 at 11:24 AM.

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I can. But if someone is completely mathilliterate, then I don't have quite as high an opinion of their intelligence as I otherwise would. You can relate math to just about everything. If you don't have at least a fundamental understanding of how math works, then you're probably not as welllearned in your particular field as you think you are.
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intelligent is the ability to cognitively think, problem solve, be innovative and how well you can learn.
If a person is smart there is a good chance he is also good at math, but correlation does not imply causation.
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Originally Posted by Rela89
math = repetition until you master it....it's not a measure of intelligence. Why are most asians (no racist) in eastern countries so good at math and playing instruments at an early age? Because they're forced to repeat everything over and over again...doesn't mean they're intelligent. Intelligence is the measure of how quickly you can learn something and apply that to real life or come up with new ideas. If you can prove a new theorem in a different way, then you're intelligent
intelligence is also the ability to comprehend and understand so when you get up to higher level mathematics it's not just all repitition it does take some intelligence to grasp the concept

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Originally Posted by 1stChanceToLose
intelligence is also the ability to comprehend and understand so when you get up to higher level mathematics it's not just all repitition it does take some intelligence to grasp the concept
This. To be able to be innovative and learn difficult concepts quickly is a very high level of intelligence in regards to most of the population. However, just because you are not as quick as these people does not make you unintelligent.

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Originally Posted by Rela89
math = repetition until you master it
I can't even begin to describe how far from the truth this is. True mathematics is about seeing connections between seemingly disparate topics and solving problems in novel and interesting ways. It gets to a point where if you don't have the intuition to make the necessary connections, you will fail regardless of how often you repeat the problem. Lower level math is about repeating inane formulas over and over again, yes, but if that's the extent of your mathematical education then you really have no idea what pure math is.
People certainly can be intelligent without being good at math, there are many different kinds of intelligence. Quantitative intelligence, verbal intelligence, social intelligence, etc. Clearly there are people who are strong in one of those areas and deficient in others.
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Math is about understanding concepts. I feel like being able to conceptualize information and understand concepts is a great trait to have.
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Originally Posted by Rela89
math = repetition until you master it....it's not a measure of intelligence. Why are most asians (no racist) in eastern countries so good at math and playing instruments at an early age? Because they're forced to repeat everything over and over again...doesn't mean they're intelligent. Intelligence is the measure of how quickly you can learn something and apply that to real life or come up with new ideas. If you can prove a new theorem in a different way, then you're intelligent
You clearly have done very little math. At it's heart, there's only a few things to memorize say basic multiplication tables and order of operations and maybe some identities. Everything else can be constructed from there.
Math is mostly applying known principles to problem and solving it be it logic/proofs, linear algebra or what have. The more interesting parts of applied math (yay) are where you have real world data and you try to create a model that behaves like some sort of real world situation. Memorization my black ass!
Biology and Chemistry on the other hand are entirely memorization unless you're talking some of the more computational variants of those, but that's basically CS/Statistics at that point.
Math is a good measure of intelligence because someone who is logical and can solve problems can do math very easily.
EDIT: For example, some of the best math is reducing an ugly solution to a problem to an elegant one. For example, how would you best add the numbers between 1 and 100? You could do it brute force, but you could also figure out what the infinite series looks like and develop an equation for that bam, elegant, quick solution. CS is like this too, on the algorithmic side reduce space and complexity and you have the perfect algorithm.

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Originally Posted by Rela89
math = repetition until you master it....it's not a measure of intelligence. Why are most asians (no racist) in eastern countries so good at math and playing instruments at an early age? Because they're forced to repeat everything over and over again...doesn't mean they're intelligent. Intelligence is the measure of how quickly you can learn something and apply that to real life or come up with new ideas. If you can prove a new theorem in a different way, then you're intelligent
Not true at all, math is so much deeper than repetition. It's a great measure of intelligence. Finding the solution to a given problem in the fastest and most efficient way takes intelligence, far deeper than repetition will allow. Sure, you can learn certain things and pass exams by repetition, but that means you're not good at math. Those who are truly good at it, are intelligent. There is no denying it.
Present two people with a differential equation, if you are familiar with diff eqs, you know they typically have various routes to a solution. One person immediately solves it the fastest and most efficient way. The other, who learns by repetition, will not know where to begin, unless they are given specific instructions on which technique to use to solve it. The former person is intelligent, the latter is not.
And Asians are good at pure computation, which is such a narrow window of math in general, although it provides a good foundation. It's more because of their language from what I understand, being that it is mathematically based apparently. I can't personally attest for that though, because I don't speak any Asian languages.
Also, to clarify, I do not believe that you must be good at math to be intelligent. I'm just saying that if you are good at it, I consider you intelligent. Mathematics is an element of intelligence, but it isn't tantamount of it. Artists are among the most intelligent people IMO, the type of creativity they display in paintings, or novels, or songs, or whatever requires some degree of intelligence. Just a different kind of intelligence that mathematicians have.
Last edited by Brad155; 04112011 at 11:26 AM.

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you can be artistically intelligent.. although usually musical geniuses are very good mathematically

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Originally Posted by Brad155
Not true at all, math is so much deeper than repetition. It's a great measure of intelligence. Finding the solution to a given problem in the fastest and most efficient way takes intelligence, far deeper than repetition will allow. Sure, you can learn certain things and pass exams by repetition, but that means you're not good at math. Those who are truly good at it, are intelligent. There is no denying it.
And Asians are good at pure computation, which is such a narrow window of math in general, although it provides a good foundation. It's more because of their language from what I understand, being that it is mathematically based apparently. I can't personally attest for that though, because I don't speak any Asian languages.
Also, to clarify, I do not believe that you must be good at math to be intelligent. I'm just saying that if you are good at it, I consider you intelligent. Mathematics is an element of intelligence, but it isn't tantamount of it. Artists are among the most intelligent people IMO, the type of creativity they display in paintings, or novels, or songs, or whatever requires some degree of intelligence. Just a different kind of intelligence that mathematicians have.
I mean you can say that about every subject, can't you? That the more advanced you get the more you have to use applications and make connections in order to solve problems. But then again, it's not just in math...you don't need to master it in order to be considered intelligent.
AND I'm sorry, when I said repition I meant solving equations, functions, etc...I do take it back. Math, when applied to physics and engineering is, imo, intelligence.

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Originally Posted by Rela89
I mean you can say that about every subject, can't you? That the more advanced you get the more you have to use applications and make connections in order to solve problems.
Sure, that's kind of a hard thing to argue. Personally I'd say the 'mathy' fields do more of it, but in general, all fields force you to figure out new stuff.
Originally Posted by Rela89
AND I'm sorry, when I said repition I meant solving equations, functions, etc...I do take it back.
There's really very little memorization after a certain point. Most of the math people I know (including me and my advisors) have lousy memories for equations, and we always have to look stuff up. Sucks cause I have a nearly photographic memory for anything else (say biology or history) but it doesn't work for math/cs!
I suppose you could say the building blocks you work with are repetitive, but that's all fields again. If you've done any math past the calculus level your view on this changes (either that or you really hate math).
Originally Posted by Rela89
Math, when applied to physics and engineering is, imo, intelligence.
Engineers are great but there's a reason mathematicians and statisticians make fun of them engineering is about using tools to solve real world problems, and as such you have less time to specialize in little niggly math stuff in those tools. For example all the tables you find in the back of engineering textbooks a lot of that stuff is easy to calculate, but they don't know how/it takes a bit to learn.
Physics is pretty serious, but the physicists who do the craziest stuff are basically statisticians, and they are where a lot of modern financial mathematics and statistics comes from.
As an example of pure math, how about the famous example of finding big prime numbers. Mathematicians love that ****. Recently it's become very useful for realworld stuff, but people have spent all sorts of effort on figuring out how to find big primes. What about calculating Fibonacci numbers? There's basic ways, but there are also some other cool ways you might not think of.

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Originally Posted by changetostay
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Originally Posted by gatovolador
Engineers are great but there's a reason mathematicians and statisticians make fun of them engineering is about using tools to solve real world problems, and as such you have less time to specialize in little niggly math stuff in those tools. For example all the tables you find in the back of engineering textbooks a lot of that stuff is easy to calculate, but they don't know how/it takes a bit to learn.
electrical engineering major here, trust me, we are pretty well versed in the derivations of these "tables" you speak of. But why reinvent the wheel? We learn the derivation, then shortcut it when we need to to simplify things. Electrical engineering is one of the most differential equation based fields as far as i know, and circuits bring in elements of linear algebra too. It requires a strong knowledge of physics to be an engineer, come at me.

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Originally Posted by Brad155
electrical engineering here major here, trust me, we are pretty well versed in the derivations of these "tables" you speak of. But why reinvent the wheel? We learn the derivation, then shortcut it when we need to to simplify things. Electrical engineering is one of the most differential equation based fields as far as i know, and circuits bring in elements of linear algebra too. It requires a strong knowledge of physics to be an engineer, come at me.
Oh I know, I was basically math/EE as an undergrad. The jibe was more at aerospace guys, but a lot of EE people very quickly forget that stuff as soon as they're done with a class there's so much other stuff to remember that's more important to solving problems.
How much physics is required to be an engineer, exactly? I don't remember anybody doing more than 2ndyear physics weedout courses from the engineering group... the people who continued on were only physics majors and the occasionally bored math person.

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Originally Posted by gatovolador
Oh I know, I was basically math/EE as an undergrad. The jibe was more at aerospace guys, but a lot of EE people very quickly forget that stuff as soon as they're done with a class there's so much other stuff to remember that's more important to solving problems.
How much physics is required to be an engineer, exactly? I don't remember anybody doing more than 2ndyear physics weedout courses from the engineering group... the people who continued on were only physics majors and the occasionally bored math person.
I think it varies, I hear of some people taking only 2 semesters of general, and then taking electromagnetics and being done with it, but I'm currently taking my third semester of physics, and plan on taking a fourth next year. Personally, physics is by far my favorite subject, and I plan to continue taking as much as I can even though it's not required.
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