posted on May, 24 2006 @ 04:49 AM
I guess it depends what you mean by 'advanced mathematics'. Since I have an engineering degree, advanced math probably means something different to
me than it would to, say, my mom, who has an english degree, and panics at anything more than +-*/.
My definition of 'advanced mathematics' would be anything beyond first year university math, so anything past beginners calculus, statistics, and
algebra. Of course, we'll probably all have different definitions for the term, but that's mine.
For the kind of math that I think should be absolutely required for everyone, the high school program is probably fairly reasonable, except that it
should have more statistics. Statistics is useful for a lot of things, I think, which is one reason I tried to learn a bit of it even before I went
to university. I found it helpful for a lot of the games I played, like AD&D, and a bunch of computer games. (Will a longsword that does 1d8 damage,
has a threat range of 19-20, and criticals for x2, do more damage than a battleaxe that does 1d8 damage, has a threat range of 20, and criticals for
x3 damage?) Of course, that isn't particularly practical, unless you design those kind of games, but it is a real world application. Statistics
also applies to things like gambling, professional surveys, and the like. (If I have a 4-5-6-7 in poker, what are the odds I will get a 3 or 8?)
Calculus is also quite practical, but it doesn't have any everyday applications. You have to get hard-core into the sciences before it really has
any uses. One strong point for teaching calculus is that much of it cannot be done with a calculator or computer. (in fact, for some of my calculus
exams, we weren't allowed calculators, because they weren't needed) Conversely, a lot of practical statistics can be done fairly easily with the
aid of a calculator, even if you don't really know what you are doing. I had a professor who argued that the engineering statistics course should be
removed from the curriculum for that very reason, and that it should be replaced with something else, like another physics class.