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Monday, March 8, 2010

The Thinking Like a Mathematician Series

The Thinking Like a Mathematician Series

In an age when apparently human beings use only ten percent of their brain, the public hasn't been spared of the Think Like a Genius syndrome. We've titles like Think like Da Vinci, Think like Einstein, and the like. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, we've yet to see a Thinking Like a Mathematician Series.
Probably we won't see such self-help series for some time, if the rate of innumeracy among writers and journalists doesn't dip in future. It's unlikely that untenured professional mathematicians (whose rice bowls depend on the number of published journal papers) would be lured into writing this type of pop math titles. However, non-fiction writers with post-graduate qualifications in science and mathematics are potential candidates to popularize such math-lite titles to the lay public.

Those who are fluent with abstract ideas would undoubtedly want to read about their mathematical idols of yesteryear – the habits of those highly successful mathematical minds. Monkeying the language of positive thinking, our chances of becoming a mathematician or mathematics educator would presumably be higher if we started acting or thinking like one. It is the intention and going through the motions of being or thinking like a mathematician that counts. 

Self-help books and circuit speakers tell us that if we want to think like a mathematician, and actually go through the motions of being one, we will become at least an adequate [probably, third-class] mathematician. We may not become another Archimedes, Gauss or Newton, but we'll be much more of a pseudo-mathematician than someone who doesn't practice the yoga of applied positive thinking. 

Meanwhile, let's look forward to some of these feel-good math titles, which may give the mathematical brethren some psychological boost to their often-unappreciated vocations.

Chicken Soup for the Mathematician Series
Chicken Soup for the Pure Mathematician
Chicken Soup for the Applied Mathematician
Chicken Soup for the Math Professor
Chicken Soup for the Math Assistant Professor
Chicken Soup for the Math Associate Professor
Chicken Soup for the Math Adjunct Professor

Chicken Soup for the Algebraist
Chicken Soup for the Geometer
Chicken Soup for the Group Theorist

Chicken Soup for the Number Theorist
Chicken Soup for the Probabilist
Chicken Soup for the Statistician
Chicken Soup for the Topologist 

© Yan Kow Cheong, March 8, 2010