Friday, October 07, 2005

Arithmetic and numerical processing are NOT Mathematics!

I recently purchased a relatively expensive book titled "Handbook of Mathematical Cognition" (2005). In the preface the editor defines mathematical cognition as "...the field of research concerned with the cognitive and neurological processes that underlie numerical and mathematical abilities." In the next paragraph, he says that the book is "a collection of twenty-seven essays by leading researchers in the field, and constitutes a comprehensive survey of state-of-the-art research on important facets of mathematical cognition."

Now, turn to the table of contents. Of the twenty-seven essays, eighteen are strictly number or arithmetic based papers. One definitely deals with mathematics. The remaining eight papers may or may not be about mathematics since I can not be sure just from the titles.

I had a number of reasons for buying the book and I'm not disappointed. Just from the research I've been doing the past two years, this was more or less what I expected.

I have a degree in Applied Mathematics which means that I spend way too much time explaining that I am not a good candidate for a job in accounts payable/receivable/payroll, etc. A math degree does not equal "good at and likes doing arithmetic." Arithmetic is one of the skills that provide a foundation for mathematics. It is not mathematics. Arithmetic and mathematics take place in different areas of the brain - they're neurologically different. So, everyone repeat ten times a day until you've learned it - arithmetic is NOT mathematics!


Teresa said...

Since Applied Math was my minor... I already know (2 more classes and it would've been a double major... I'm lazy). *grin* Never EVER ask me to add anything... I can about do 20% for a tip and that's it - sometimes I can't even get
THAT right!!!

nellsquirrel said...

Well, there you go blowing a long held religious belief!!! *sigh*

_Jon said...

Hmmm, something doesn't add up.


Couldn't resist the pun.

And Harvey *hates* puns.
I think they are smart people jokes.

Welcome to the (deranged) family.
If you know Teresa, you must be smart.
If you put the Bad Example blog-roll on your blog - well, not so smart. :)

MathCogIdiocy said...

Nell - what long held religious belief got blown? I'm a little dim today. All that rain soaked my brain.

MathCogIdiocy said...

Not so sure that knowing Teresa makes me smart. It may be that Teresa is just being kind to the handicapped and showing how accepting she is of the deranged inhabitants of blue states. LOL

But puns - bring 'em on. I love puns although I rarely think of one on my own.

Contagion said...

Okay, I'll bite... What exactly is the difference between mathematics and arithmetic. Math is NOT one of my strong points...

Irishpixie said...

Then what's algebra called? *eg*

MathCogIdiocy said...

Well, Pixie - sometimes algebra is called math and sometimes it's called by names most TV shows bleep out.

Not that it matters, but historically the only "true" math was geometry. Algebra was just a tool - kind of a high bred arithmetic. Algebraic principles had to be proved using geometry. Somewhere around the renaissance algebra finally became math. (Do you think this might have had something to do with algebra's origins - Islamic?)

Anonymous said...

the only true mathematics are elementary arithmatic and euclidean geometry

mathematics is meaningless..
unless it calculates a physical value, quantity, ratio or motion of tangible entities that exist in reality

abstract theoretical mathematics is spectacular nonsense
in realm of metaphysics and occult mysticism

real science is based only upon directly observed and measured physical reality

1 + 1 = 2 <-------- this is mathematics