Thursday, September 12, 2002

What do you do?

Salon's Math = beauty + truth / (really hard) article tries to explain what mathematicians do. It falls short, but give it A for effort. I've known my fare share of math geeks over the years, and it can be hard to get them to even try and explain what it is they are working on. Math is so specialized, most of us lack the vocabulary to understand what it is they do. While Richard, a good friend and IdeaJoy lurker, was working on his masters thesis my dad asked him "what is there to research in math? Is it not all known?".

I've also found explaining what I do as a software developer a pain. If I mention that I do web systems I get the full range of expressions, from blank stares to "oh I do that, I have web page on tripod". When I'm in particularly flippant mood I explain that "I write software for computers that don't exist", and leave it at that.

Anyone else have problems answering the "what do you do" question?


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