The Math Forum



Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.


Math Forum » Discussions » sci.math.* » sci.math.symbolic

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: Q: Engineering or Math?
Replies: 33   Last Post: Nov 24, 1997 4:42 PM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
Hubert HOLIN

Posts: 4
Registered: 12/7/04
Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Posted: Nov 18, 1997 11:34 AM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

charles loboz wrote:

> As an ex-physicist I wholly second the quote below, which I consider
> the
> most important part of your mail:
>

> > You can't see the connections between engineering problems
> > if you haven't first been exposed to the problems. In my personal
> > experience early exposure to really valuable mathematics is somewhat

>
> > wasted--I did not have the engineering experience to see where that
> > mathematics would apply. I did not really appreciate higher math

> until
> > after I had practiced for a while--a situation you find yourself
> now.
>
> I have seen numerous times similar situations. Personally I think that
>
> learning much math is a 'leap of faith' - you have to _trust_ your
> lecturers that it really will be necessary one day. Plus - you do not
> really know what of they tell you is important and _how_ it is
> important.
> During my course I was initially exposed to 'too much' mathematics.
> Then we
> went into physics - which required _different_ mathematics than taught
> in
> the 'pure maths course'. Later then I had to _relearn_ parts of maths
> from
> the pure maths course - because it was necessary. I wasn't alone in
> this -
> at least 80% of my friends had exactly the same opinion. The only good
>
> thing about all these was that we learnt very quickly that you can
> pick up
> any maths you need - if you have to.
>
> So there is a delicate balance between what and _when_ to study. As
> one of
> my lecturers - a pure mathematician, strangely enough - said: this
> (series
> of lectures) is not to make you into mathematicians, but to give you
> mathematical _culture_, so later you can go on your own.


[SNIP]

> > Obviously there are deep connections between various topics in
> > engineering, and the fundamental language used to explore those
> > connections is mathematics. In my experience the more mathematics

> you
> > know the more connections you see, which leads to a greater
> capability
> > to solve engineering problems.
> >
> > So you should study more mathematics first, right?
> >
> > Probably not! You can't see the connections between engineering

> problems
> > if you haven't first been exposed to the problems. In my personal
> > experience early exposure to really valuable mathematics is somewhat

>
> > wasted--I did not have the engineering experience to see where that
> > mathematics would apply. I did not really appreciate higher math

> until
> > after I had practiced for a while--a situation you find yourself
> now.

[SNIP]

I guess the ultimate answer is that there is no miracle recipe. I
am a mathematician (math thesis) working as an engineer (currently for a
software company, formerly for the french meteorological organization),
with both theoretical math training and engineering training (Ecole
Polytechniques, others...), and have taught maths in an engineering
school specializing in computer science.

It is my personal (student) experience that trying to infer the
math from physics "facts", in the classroom, is a complete waste of
time. As former posters said, they didn't have the patience to learn
math before plunging headlong into waters too deep for them, so they had
to backtrack and re(?)learn their maths in order to progress.

The problem, in fact, boils down to the fact most math teachers
do not feel obligated (or capable), of giving a wide enough array of
incentives to their students to pay attention to their course. Remember
that for most mathematicians the math to be taught is the justification
of the course, while for engineer its what can be done with the math
that is the justification. There is also a distinct lack of modelisation
courses, which are possible both from an engineering and from a math
side, and which in nature are quite different from the lame "inference
attempts" of most physics curricula.

However, math, like any abstract field of study, is a welcome
ingredient in any formation, as it leads one, if properly taught, to
"learn to learn", which is the only way to stave off knowledge
obsolescence (i.e. you might thus keep your job longer...).

Finally, as I am currently paid for, new engineering tools
frequently come about as a results of new developments of math theories.

It frequently pays to do more of what one does best, but in the
end, no one but you can make your choices.

Hubert Holin
holin@mathp7.jussieu.fr
hh@ArtQuest.fr

[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]
[filling for the bloody news poster]




Date Subject Author
11/12/97
Read Q: Engineering or Math?
kdieudonX@spacey.net
11/13/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Ken Davis
11/13/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Chris Griffin
11/13/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Robert Israel
11/18/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Louis M. Pecora
11/18/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Hanspeter Schmid
11/18/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Frank Miles
11/20/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Hanspeter Schmid
11/20/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
John van Veen
11/22/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Edward leibnitz
11/23/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Terry Moore
11/19/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
PeterK@_delete_mvt.ie
11/19/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Frank Miles
11/20/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Hanspeter Schmid
11/21/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
nobody@nowhere.on.ca
11/20/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Alan J. Livingston
11/13/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Tom Bryan
11/13/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Sam @ The NIMP Team
11/13/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Balden, Ron
11/14/97
Read Re: Engineering or Math?
Rui Santos
11/14/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
cbarker
11/15/97
Read Re: Engineering or Math?
Sergio Gonzalez Lopez
11/17/97
Read Teaching of math Was: Re: Engineering or Math?
Herman Rubin
11/19/97
Read Re: Teaching of math Was: Re: Engineering or Math?
Elvis Presley
11/20/97
Read Re: Teaching of math Was: Re: Engineering or Math?
Herman Rubin
11/22/97
Read Re: Teaching of math Was: Re: Engineering or Math?
Elvis Presley
11/24/97
Read Re: Teaching of math Was: Re: Engineering or Math?
Herman Rubin
11/24/97
Read Re: Teaching of math Was: Re: Engineering or Math?
Milo Gardner
11/24/97
Read Re: Teaching of math Was: Re: Engineering or Math?
Jim Carr
11/19/97
Read Re: Teaching of math Was: Re: Engineering or Math?
Pertti Lounesto
11/15/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Perry W. Stout
11/16/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
charles loboz
11/18/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Hubert HOLIN
11/16/97
Read Re: Q: Engineering or Math?
Arvind Kumar

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.