Math Classes Every College Should Teach

Math 40: Trying to Visualize a Fourth Dimension. Syllabus includes Flatland, the Wikipedia page for “hypercube,” long hours of squinting, and self-inflicted head injuries.

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Math 99: An Irritating Introduction to Proof. The term begins with five weeks of the professor responding to every question with, “But how do you knoooooooow?” If anyone is still enrolled at that point, we’ll have to wing it, since no one has ever lasted that long.

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Math 101: Binary. An introductory study of the binary numeral system. Also listed as Math 5.

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Math 200: Graphing for Lazy People. Topics include zooming so far in that everything looks linear, and zooming so far out that no features are discernible.

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Math 250: Pretty, Pretty Fractals. After a few perfunctory gestures toward actual mathematics, we will spend the entire term drooling over PowerPoints of pretty, pretty fractals. No prerequisites.

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Math -310: Sign Errors. This intensive course meets for -6 hours per week, the entirety of which will be spent hunting for sign errors. Students who catch one will receive a grade of either A+ or A-; I’m still figuring that out.

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Math 314: Approximations of π. Hands-on coursework includes 22/7, 3.14159, and 3. Then, the second half of the term will cover approximations so long and unwieldy that they have no practical use. This is so as to align with the broader themes of math education.

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Math 350: The Thing You Just Learned, But Wildly Generalized. What, you thought that was abstract? No, no. That was just a special case, a concrete example, and it will be encompassed by a single question on the first problem set.

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Math 1,000,000,000,000: Wall Street Mathematics. Students will write down loads of zeroes, believe themselves to be billionaires, and then go bankrupt when they realize that there was nothing in front of all those zeroes.

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Just before posting, I saw that this is the 300th post on Math with Bad Drawings! Thanks for reading, commenting, and overlooking the general artistic shoddiness.

This is the fifth year of MWBD, and I’ve got some upcoming projects that I’m really excited to share with you. In the meantime, though, my humble gratitude for your readership and your preternatural patience.

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30 thoughts on “Math Classes Every College Should Teach

  1. You missed my favorite approximation to pi:
    \[
    \left( \frac{1}{10^5} \sum_{n=-\infty}^{\infty} \exp(- n^2/10^10) \right)^2
    \]
    which is not equal to pi, but agrees to more than 42 digits. In fact, it agrees
    to more than 42 *billion* digits!

  2. OMG!… there are toooo many of these I relate to. LOL!
    As to “artistic shoddiness,” ya know sometimes I catch myself just staring at one of those rounded faces, thoroughly amazed at how much facial expression you’ve fashioned in a few strokes!

  3. I took Math 40. It was taught by Bill Thurston. We spent a lot of time doing arts and crafts projects, knitting hyperbolic space, peeling oranges, measuring the curvature of kale, playing with children’s toys, etc.

  4. Few more suggestions:
    Math Aleph Naught: Cantor’s cardinals and ordinals, and to test continuum Hypotheses: Whether it is worth it to continue taking such math courses.
    Math-ine Learning: A fancy name for Regression 101. Go wild and play with it until you kill all jobs and watch the machine takes over the world.
    Math 30 (Pronounced as 3 knot): Just drink coffee from your doughnut or pour ot into klein bottle to pass the course.

  5. Please write on this topic;”Relationship between indices and logarithm” And forward it to my email. On 17 Jan 2018 6:49 p.m., “Math with Bad Drawings” wrote:

    > Ben Orlin posted: “Math 40: Trying to Visualize a Fourth Dimension. > Syllabus includes Flatland, the Wikipedia page for “hypercube,” long hours > of squinting, and self-inflicted head injuries. Math 99: An Irritating > Introduction to Proof. The term begins with five weeks of” >

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