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# 452

The adventures of martin31415926 - October 10, 2011
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Thanks to my buddy martin31415926 for this idea that he posted on his facebook (true story):

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## 25 Comments

Math is the only *real* science. Everything else is just guesswork.

Newton is crying in his tomb after this joke...

i dont get it

FWIW I was at The University of Birmingham in England in the late seventies studying a maths degree. I don't know if it's still the case but back then they ran both arts faculty and science faculty maths courses.

I, of course, was on the science faculty course.

All of my Multivariable Calculus exams were multiple choice, I never learned the stuff, just the way the questions were formatted.

HAHAHA please, I'll tell this one to the physicists

Since string theory, not to mention "thought experiments", some say that physics is a theological discipline!

Oh no he didn't D:

That explains why the statistics exams I did were multiple choice. :D

Exactly!

Interesting proposition; for a topic to be an art, it is necessary that a multiple choice test be possible. It is not sufficient however- there are multiple choice maths tests, notably SATS.

Is it not possible also that it's not the Math that's the art, but taking SAT tests that's an art?

Good point! "Either maths is an art or MC tests are an art or both" would be satisfied by "MC tests are an art". But this would then be true of any discipline tested by MCs, including physics.

In our physics faculty, only the two first courses (Mechanics+Special Relativity, Electromagnetism+Waves) which we share with other degrees (Electrical, Biomedical etc Engineering), and of course the easier versions of them that every other student does, are multiple choice. All the rest are open questions. It's made this way to ease the entry for the other degrees.

I had a teacher that would answer that question with yes.

Technically any question has multiple choices, some are just more limited than others.

But some multiple choice questions have a finite, or even a small finite natural number of answers, while others have an infinite, often a higher infinite number of answers--which makes guessing the answer correctly impossibly low.

Which still leaves the question, what if the test asks work to be shown? How do we classify those sort of tests?

So a better question would be, 'what is the mode of the cardinalities of the sets of answer choices for the questions on the test?' But I guess the definition of that is a little fuzzy, because whether a question requires an answer from a set of four choices, an integer answer, or a complicated algebraic expression, one could always choose to write 'I am a fish'.

Oxford University still Awards Arts degrees for all degrees ...

My wife has a BA in Physics ...

And yet, in Chemistry (a significantly less "hard" science than classical physics), I got a B.S. Go figure.

I hate MC math tests. My grad level math class (for physics & engineering students, so this could be why :P ) tests were all MC and less than 10 questions.
Is engineering also art, based on xkcd's purity scale? (http://xkcd.com/435/) But engineering doesn't offer a BA, only a BS (and a MS or MSE and a PhD or DE). However, there is an art to finding and writing proofs in math, so wouldn't it be an art? (not to mention I've seen more people w/ a Math BA than a Math BS)

Penrose (Emperor's New Mind) argues that a new proof is found by a kind of direct observation of a "Platonic world" of mathematical truth. That sounds like an art. Or a religion. Tolkien (quoted by Carpenter in his biography) defines mythology as "invention about truth", which would make all science (in the sense of the generation models of an objective world) mythology.

What sort of Arts course has multiple-choice answers? Surely art is all set around personal interpretations, usually expressed in lengthy prose.
Although, many mathematicians would prefer to call maths an art, not a science.

See, herein lies the problem: math IS an art, not a science, for its medium is pure idea: while it has practical application (aka physics), it is predominantly an art. Think, for example, about the difference between a theorem in mathematics and one in physics. Not to mention that classically, it has always been thought of as an art! Read "A Mathematician's Lament" by Paul Lockhart to get a better perspective on this...

Assuming the Axiom of Choice...

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