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Old 2018-06-02, 19:20   #1
MooMoo2
 
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Default Can most people understand advanced math?

Suppose you took a hundred or so babies at random and gave them optimal living conditions. Among other things, they get a healthy diet, a safe environment, and private tutors. Their life goal is to get a passing grade in a university-level math class such as linear algebra, differential equations, or multivariable calculus. Assume that they are sufficiently motivated and that none of them cheat.

Given those conditions, would more than half of them eventually pass? I think they would, but a lot of people I've talked to disagree.

edit: They are given unlimited attempts and do not have to pass the course by a certain age.

Last fiddled with by MooMoo2 on 2018-06-02 at 19:22
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Old 2018-06-02, 20:29   #2
jasong
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MooMoo2 View Post
Suppose you took a hundred or so babies at random and gave them optimal living conditions. Among other things, they get a healthy diet, a safe environment, and private tutors. Their life goal is to get a passing grade in a university-level math class such as linear algebra, differential equations, or multivariable calculus. Assume that they are sufficiently motivated and that none of them cheat.

Given those conditions, would more than half of them eventually pass? I think they would, but a lot of people I've talked to disagree.

edit: They are given unlimited attempts and do not have to pass the course by a certain age.
If their life goal is to accomplish this, then I'd say 2/3rds is a safe low estimate for accomplishing it. My assumption is that they're spread out over the planet and have the self confidence to actively seek out people to help them achieve their goal.

One of the problems with advanced subjects is you have students who need 1 on 1 help, but maybe they're in a class of 30 or so. If people can get the 1 on 1 help they need, then the potential to learn skyrockets.
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Old 2018-06-02, 20:29   #3
VBCurtis
 
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I've taught community-college and freshman-level university courses for 20 years. Under the circumstances you posit, I think this number is over 90%.
The community-college offers courses equivalent to 7th-grade math, up through the courses you mention. It's really quite rare to run into a student in one of the developmental courses who honestly lacks the talent to pass multivariable calc or linear algebra. Of those I would put into that category, at least some of them might not lack the talent if they'd grown up in a different setting.

Within the American course progression, I believe that nearly everyone who passes a college-level precalculus/trig course will pass each term of calculus within two tries. Most of the ones who could not meet your criteria would likely fail in the Intermediate Algebra or Trig levels, rather than making through single-variable calculus but then failing all 3 of your mentioned second-year university courses.

50% is more likely correct if you had asked about the chances of passing abstract-math upper division courses such as Topology or Abstract Algebra.
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Old 2018-06-08, 09:15   #4
LaurV
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We think all of them will eventually pass, given the conditions you set. We failed some exams in our times, and had to re-take them (and re-re-take a topic about differential equations with partial derivatives, to which we scored minimum mark to pass) but that was because we were lazy, stupid, etc.., and our interests at the time were different (and we don't only mean academical, where we were more interested in programming, algorithms, whatever, but also extra-curricular, like we were more interested in diferent(iation) kind of beer, girls, or just sleeping and playing cards instead of going to lectures...)

Last fiddled with by LaurV on 2018-06-08 at 09:21
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Old 2018-06-08, 22:01   #5
Till
 
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If it is true "random picking" then a few have no chance at all.
Go to a place where the most disabled people are cared of and you'll see.
What good is a tutor if you don't know at all if the tutee's mind is aware of its surrounding or not?


Apart from such cases, I believe that anybody who is able to memorize stuff to a sufficient degree could make it. Under the proposed conditions that should be more than 70%.
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Old 2018-06-08, 22:07   #6
Batalov
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurV View Post
We think all of them will eventually pass, given the conditions you set.
Nash: As I was saying, this problem here will take some of you many months to solve.
For others among you, it will take you the term of your natural lives.”

nashproblem.pdf
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