01 Mar '12, 6pm

Is Math Still Relevant?

Long ago, when I was a freshman in ­engineering school, there was a required course in mechanical drawing. “You had better learn this skill,” the instructor said, “because all engineers start their careers at the ­drafting table.” This was an ominous beginning to my education, but as it turned out, he was wrong. Neither I nor, I suspect, any of my classmates began our careers at the drafting table. These days, engineers aren’t routinely taught drawing, but they spend a lot of time learning another skill that may be similarly unnecessary: mathematics. I confess this thought hadn’t occurred to me until recently, when a friend who teaches at a leading university made an off-hand comment. “Is it ­possible,” he suggested, “that the era of math­ematics in electrical ­engineering is coming to an end?” When I asked him about this disturbing idea, he said that he had only been ­try...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/education/is-math-still-...

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