>I too am rather amazed, but not because they're >essentially precalculus level, but because the >difficulty level doesn't seem to exceed what shows up on >average level precalculus tests.
OK, Dave, so you are amazed and Bob is amazed and we are all amazed. Let's draw an inference. Let me suggest one.
About a dozen years ago, I heard Barry Simon http://www.math.caltech.edu/people/simon.html (scroll down the page for a lovely picture of Simon's one-two punch) retired chairman of the math dept at Caltech. He said, at that time, that Caltech recently had to re-organize their calculus curriculum. He strenuously insisted that the incoming freshmen were as bright as ever, but their mathematical preparation had degraded significantly.
Clearly, what we are seeing at MIT is all of a piece with Caltech's experience and the experience of others. For instance, I heard several years ago that national laboratories have had trouble filling math and science positions because those positions require high skills AND US citizenship. Perhaps the laboratories have implemented accommodations since then. If so, I can only wonder what they are.
Maybe Paul should send Simon and MIT and the national laboratories a few citations to straighten them out.