As a society, we are pretty conflicted about mathematics. On one hand, we recognize that math has allowed us to achieve some amazing things, including space travel and much of our technology. Yet, math gets a bad rap in popular culture. In movies and tv shows, we're more likely to see kids complaining about or struggling with algebra or calculus than enjoying it. But what's so scary about math? For those of us who might have shied away from it in the past, John E. McCarthy, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Mathematics at Washington University, breaks math down to its most fundamental essence and explains how both pure and applied mathematics are only another way to examine and understand our world.
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