Mathematics is used as a hoop, a badge, a totem

Quote of the Day for Sunday, July 29th, 2012: Andrew Hacker, in today’s New York Times, asks: Is Algebra Necessary? Peter Braunfeld of the University of Illinois tells his students, “Our civilization would collapse without mathematics.” He’s absolutely right. Algebraic algorithms underpin animated movies, investment strategies and airline ticket prices. And we need people to understand how those things work and to advance our frontiers. Quantitative literacy clearly is useful in weighing all manner of public policies, from the Affordable Care Act, to th...

My biggest regret isn’t that I didn’t learn Fortran, but that I didn’t study Dante

Quote of the Day for Saturday, January 7th, 2012. Virginia Postrel, posting at Bloomberg yesterday in a piece called How Art History Majors Power the U.S. Economy, on the misguided but largely unexamined tendency of many critics of higher education to apply a supposed realpolitik of utility to the evaluation of programs and curricula, becoming in the process shadows of the smug, short-sighted central planners they typically scorn: The students who come out of school without jobs aren’t, for the most part, starry-eyed liberal arts majors but rather peopl...