Additional Math Pages & Resources

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Parlez-vous mathématiques?

Some of us will know what Parlez-vous français? means. It's Do you speak French? In French.

Today's blog title is prompted by the Tour de France every morning. The commentary is in English, but there's plenty of French being spoken (and seen) on the show. We are traveling through France along with the bicycle racers, and we are about to come up on Bastille Day tomorrow.

I don't speak French very well. I have traveled a lot in France - visiting at least 15-20 times for business and pleasure. I can read fairly well and communicate if I have to - especially about food, cars, and bicycles. But this modest level of competence came at a price. On my first visit I went for weeks not being able to read or speak without serious concentration. My brain was constantly tired.

What does this have to do with math? you ask. This - if you think of math as a language, most of us are in the same position I am with French. We can communicate just a little. We might be able to fool a few people once in awhile. But then we come across REAL MATH language. For example:

In selected trials (n=65,229) patients were followed for  244,000 person-years. Of  2,793 deaths, 1,447 deaths occurred among placebo patients (n=32,606) and 1,346 deaths occurred among patients treated with a statin (n=32,623). The RR for all-cause mortality associated with statins was 0.91 (95% CI, 0.83-1.01). Researchers reported no statistical evidence of heterogeneity between studies (I²=23%; 95% CI, 0%-61%).

Ok, maybe that wasn't so hard. How about this passage:

Compiled 23 studies on the effect of reduced-function cytochrome P450 2C19*2 (CYP2C19*2) genetic variant (n=11,959 participants) and the effect of proton pump inhibitor co-administration (n=48,674). 

The carriers of the loss-of-function CYP2C19*2 allele (n=3,418) had a 30% increased risk for a major adverse coronary event vs. non-carriers (9.7% vs. 7.8%; OR=1.29; 95% CI, 1.12-1.49). This variant was also associated with an increased risk for mortality (1.8% vs.1%; OR=1.79; 95% CI, 1.10-2.91; n=6,225) and stent thrombosis (2.9% vs. 0.9%; OR=3.45; 95% CI, 2.14-5.57; n=4,905).

Proton pump inhibitor users( n=19,614) displayed increased risk for major adverse coronary events (21.8% vs. 16.7%;OR=1.41; 95% CI, 1.34-1.48) and mortality (12.7% vs. 7.4%; OR=1.18; 95% CI,1.07-1.30) versus non-users.

Is this math or gibberish? In any case, it scares us. I present this argument from Jonathan Hayward, a doctoral mathematics graduate/geek:

Most people are taught something horrid as basic math and they later avoid it as much as they can. They don't know what most mathematicians really do is enjoy an art form guided by intuition. Most people think mathematicians must do more of whatever they suffered through in math classes. It's really sad because higher math is easier than lower math!

This author makes the argument that higher math is fun! It's exercising an art form guided by intuition. Here are some mathematicians from MIT. Do they look like they might enjoy math, like these conjectures?

Conjecture:  Let S = (0, 1).  For all x ∈ S there exists y ∈ S such that y > x.
Conjecture:  Let S = (0, 1).  There exists y ∈ S such that for all x ∈ S, y > x.
Conjecture:  Let S = [0, 1].  If  x ∈ S there exists y ∈ S such that y > x.

Professor Dr. Bill Hart appears positively euphoric because his research team discovered answers to:

For which whole numbers n does there exist a square a2 so that a2-n and a2+n are also squares?  

I say, let's stop here, I'm getting a headache. (Why are these guys so often next to a chalk board?)

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