Street-Fighting Math - Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyedX
What you'll learn on the course
Too much mathematical rigor teaches rigor mortis: the fear of making an unjustified leap even when it lands on a correct result. Instead of paralysis, have courage: Shoot first and ask questions later. Although unwise as public policy, it is a valuable problem-solving philosophy and the theme of this course: how to guess answers without a proof or an exact calculation, in order to develop insight. You will learn this skill by mastering six reasoning tools---dimensional analysis, easy cases, lumping, pictorial reasoning, taking out the big part, and analogy. The applications will include mental calculation, estimating population growth rates, understanding drag without differential equations, singing musical intervals to estimate logarithms, approximating integrals, summing infinite series, and turning differential equations into algebra. Your learning will be supported by regular readings that you discuss with other students, by short tablet videos, by quick problems to help you check your understanding, by weekly homework problems, review and and a final exam. You will work hard, and, by the end of the course, have learned a rough-and-ready approach to using mathematics to understand the world. All required readings are available within the courseware, courtesy of The MIT Press. A print version of the course textbook, Street-Fighting Math, is also available for purchase. The MIT Press is offering enrolled students a special 30% discount on books ordered directly through the publisher’s website. To take advantage of this offer, please use promotion code SFM30 at The MIT Press. FAQ Do I need to buy a textbook? Back in 2010, MIT Press agreed to publish the textbook, *Street-Fighting Mathematics*, under a free license (in print and online). Thus, the book is legally available all over the internet, including on this course platform. As a registered student in this course, you can also purchase a printed book from MIT Press at a discount. Do you often get into street fights? The last time was in high school, when I was attacked for being “different” and suspended for fighting back. However, in my problem-solving fights (and now that I’m older!), I regularly use reasoning tools and we’ll do the same in this course.
Sanjoy Mahajan Sanjoy Mahajan is Visiting Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT, and Associate Professor of Applied Science and Engineering at Olin College of Engineering. In former lives, he was a faculty member in the Physics Department at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and Associate Director of the Teaching and Learning Laboratory at MIT. He helped found the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Cape Town, where he was the first Curriculum Director and taught the first courses in physics and computer science. Isaac Chuang Isaac Chuang is a professor of Physics and a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.