Math – The First Discipline

If you stop at general math, you’re only going to make general math money. – Snoop Dogg

Snoop is right. If I want to learn about computing and perhaps make some money on the side, I need to sharpen my math skills.

I have started a review of good old arithmetic. More on that later.


By about 2000 BCE, the Babylonians and the Egyptians were pretty good at arithmetic as well as geometry, and some proto-algebra, after all, the Egyptians build the pyramids. Although neither of these civilizations used our current base-10 system, they were practiced enough to turn out solutions to Pythagorean’s theorem referenced in the Plimpton 3221, a clay tablet dated to 1800 BCE. Interestingly, this document was written administratively for something like civil engineering and not something a mathematician would compose. Still cool though.

Pythagorean Theorem
Plimpton 322 clay tablet, with numbers written in cuneiform script.

Mathematics is not something that you find lying around in your back yard. It’s produced by the human mind. Yet if we ask where mathematics works best, it is in areas like particle physics and astrophysics, areas of fundamental science that are very, very far removed from everyday affairs.” What does that imply? “It suggests to me that consciousness and our ability to do mathematics are no mere accident,no trivial detail, no insignificant by-product of evolution. – Paul Davies, “Are We Alone?”



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