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Key Questions
For the mathematics community to flourish in this time of change, we must
answer a number of key questions. We have collected some writings that address
these questions. Some of our quotes come from
letters to the President of the University of Rochester, whose decision to cut back the university's math program made urgent the public's need for more definitive answers. Fortunately, the program was reinstated, although there are undoubtedly mathematics departments at other institutions that are attractive targets to costcutters.
 Why should the public support mathematics?
What do we do that is important?
 "Can Mathematics Get Its Act Together?"  Leon Seitelman, applied mathematician.
 Howard Stein, Professor of Philosophy, University of Chicago.
 "What Does the Government Get For Its Investment in Basic Research?"  Joint Policy Board on Mathematics.
 "Mathematics is Important and
Adds Real Value"  Leon Seitelman, applied mathematician.
 "Mathematics is vital to the health and prosperity of the nation"  Leon Seitelman, applied mathematician.
 Why is a research mathematics program necessary for
graduate science programs?
 Jerrold Meinwald, Goldwin Smith Professor of Chemistry, Cornell University.
 Stephen Weinberg, Nobel Laureate in Physics.
 Why are we wellsuited to teach mathematics to
scientists and engineers?
 Alan Schoenfeld, Professor of Education and Mathematics, UC Berkeley.
 How Well Do We Teach Scientists and Engineers?  discussion at the MER Banquet at Orlando
 Why should people major in mathematics? What is
a math degree good for?
 For the entry math gives you to flexibility and to satisfying, wellpaying jobs.
 The MAA has a page of essays by math grads about what they're doing now.
 Exactly How Is Math Used
In Technology?, from the Mathematics Department of the
British Columbia Institute of Technology, provides examples of math uses in
biomedical engineering, food technology, building technology, chemical sciences, civil
and structural engineering, graphics and computeraided drawing (CAD), electronics,
environmental health, mechanical engineering, mining technology, nuclear medicine,
occupational health, petroleum technology, prosthetics, forestry and wildlife, robotics,
and surveying.
 Why should students take mathematics courses?
 Tom Davis, Principal Scientist, Silicon Graphics Inc.
 Lee Rainwater, Professor of Sociology (retired), Harvard.
 Colin Adams, Williams College.
 How can we answer when young students ask,
"When will I ever use this?" or "What good is math?"
 Suggestions from the Ask Dr. Math FAQ file here at the Math Forum.
 What can be done to solve the multilevel problems of mathematics education? How can we best stimulate a productive dialogue among the principals: elementary, middle, high school, and college math teachers, the research community, the education community, parents, concerned citizens, and last, but not least, students? Here's our answer, based on the goals of the Math Forum.
