Math Question Discourse: From "An Open Letter to NAQT"

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

yisun wrote:Okay, so do you accept that "establishing the formula needed to solve the problem" is legit? Because if so, at least on some level, easy computation can be memorized. (the multiplication tables, the basic rules for multiplying variables, etc). Strangely, this would be similar to a math competition in quite few ways.
Why can't you just write a tossup on "the fundamental theorem of calculus" that uses "you would use it to solve such-and-such a problem" as a clue, if you really just want to reward knowing which formula applies? Do you understand that questions like that are written all the time and can be written in the future, and no one objects to them? Is it because you don't really want to reward that, and you actually want to reward a speed arithmetic contest?
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Why can't you just write a tossup on "the fundamental theorem of calculus" that uses "you would use it to solve such-and-such a problem" as a clue, if you really just want to reward knowing which formula applies? Do you understand that questions like that are written all the time and can be written in the future, and no one objects to them? Is it because you don't really want to reward that, and you really want to reward a speed arithmetic contest?
It's because I write such questions all the time and find that they don't really test the knowledge of how to solve a problem. Not all problems' solution is based on find the appropriate formula and plugging some numbers in, as you seem to be claiming. If this were the case, writing questions would be much easier. Some techniques don't really have names (or at least names that anyone has heard of), and its extremely frustrating as a player to listen to clues about things that you know very well but which attempt to name things that are never named in classes.

Trust me, I'm not good at speed arithmetic and not so fond of it either (I recently tried playing some online mathcounts game and got beat down badly). I'm proposing changing the arithmetic to things like 2 * 2; if you want to claim I support not rewarding people who can't do that in a reasonable time period, fine.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Okay, so do you accept that "establishing the formula needed to solve the problem" is legit? Because if so, at least on some level, easy computation can be memorized. (the multiplication tables, the basic rules for multiplying variables, etc). Strangely, this would be similar to a math competition in quite few ways.
I absolutely recognize that as legit, because I accept the comparison of "establishing the formula needed" to other subjects in quizbowl.

You are absolutely correct that some amount of easy computation can be memorized. But that's not my point. I don't care if it is absolutely instantaneous to compute an answer once you have the formula - the fact that the computation step exists serves to alienate the tossup from the rest of the packet, and that's bad. No other tossup requires both knowledge and application.

I agree that this is strangely similar to a math competition - in fact, I wouldn't object to a math competition that used solely this type of question in tossup form a la quizbowl. What I object to is combining this perfectly acceptable math competition with quizbowl because it doesn't follow the same convention of "knowledge, not application" as quizbowl.
yisun wrote:
Why can't you just write a tossup on "the fundamental theorem of calculus" that uses "you would use it to solve such-and-such a problem" as a clue, if you really just want to reward knowing which formula applies? Do you understand that questions like that are written all the time and can be written in the future, and no one objects to them? Is it because you don't really want to reward that, and you really want to reward a speed arithmetic contest?
It's because I write such questions all the time and find that they don't really test the knowledge of how to solve a problem.
This is because, in a pyramidal noncomp question as described, we don't care about the knowledge of solving a problem! We care about knowledge of the concept because that is what quizbowl tests - knowledge, NOT application. When you add the application aspect to the tossup, you make it a different style of tossup as compared to the rest of the match, and that's bad.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

This is because, in a pyramidal noncomp question as described, we don't care about the knowledge of solving a problem! We care about knowledge of the concept because that is what quizbowl tests - knowledge, NOT application. When you add the application aspect to the tossup, you make it a different style of tossup as compared to the rest of the match, and that's bad.
I'm not sure how "knowledge of solving a problem" is not a valid type of knowledge.
I agree that this is strangely similar to a math competition - in fact, I wouldn't object to a math competition that used solely this type of question in tossup form a la quizbowl. What I object to is combining this perfectly acceptable math competition with quizbowl because it doesn't follow the same convention of "knowledge, not application" as quizbowl.
Sorry about this, I meant "not similar to a math competition," but somehow typed the exact opposite. I would object quite a bit to such a math competition, since math competitions are about thinking and solving, and (largely) not about knowledge.
You are absolutely correct that some amount of easy computation can be memorized. But that's not my point. I don't care if it is absolutely instantaneous to compute an answer once you have the formula - the fact that the computation step exists serves to alienate the tossup from the rest of the packet, and that's bad. No other tossup requires both knowledge and application.
I was going to ask what you meant by the differentiation between "the formula" and "the answer" (they would be the same thing if all parameters were given in variables). But I think this is just getting caught up in semantics. Is the idea that those things which are valid to be tested for in quizbowl correspond only to those things which it is possible to memorize (for lack of a better word)?
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

yisun wrote:So the Alexander-Lefchetz duality thing was my example of a bad math question using a common-link sort of deal and has nothing to do with HS difficulty. It was the first line of a tossup in my room at EFT and I got buzzer-raced out of it (by Harvard A) because both me and the guy who answered had taken a class that vaguely mentioned this existed. But there's no need for any real knowledge when the tossup mentions Alexander-Lefchetz, which is really the case for most such tossups.

Also, there are such things as math books (note that everything I'm proposing are things usually studied before or during the first year of college).
We are still talking about high schoolers, right? Right.

You have absolutely no way of comprehending how incredibly far above the above-average high school math student you were in high school. The high school math canon should not come to include any concepts so abstruse as to merely merit a passing mention in Math 55, just because it's "studied before or during the first year of college"--and it probably shouldn't include things that are far easier either. Even though there are indeed such things as math books, there's a much greater barrier to entry for math than for other sciences; the fact that you'll have to make them ass-easy at the end to avoid too many dead tossups will leave teams content to use combinatorics instead of Catalan numbers, et cetera.

Also--put you and John in a room and it's very possible that math questions will be a buzzer race on an early clue. Having good math players will just sometimes do that, right?
So in the case of, say, the fundamental theorem of calculus, is your argument more or less: "there exist people, Alice and Bob, so that Alice 'knows more' about the FTC, but Bob can solve calculus problems involving the FTC faster. in this case, Alice needs to get the tossups, rather than Bob." It seems like this makes it an issue of semantics, since one could say that we're testing the knowledge of how to solve the problem.
Not really. Knowledge and skill are two pretty different things. One could say that, if the word had a different meaning; one could say that, and then have to do the rest of quizbowl differently, too. Honestly, if you're going to say that you're testing the knowledge of how to solve the problem, I'll just scream and cover my ears and say "all right then, quizbowl doesn't test all knowledge: it only tests all knowledge that's not knowledge of 'how to solve a problem' if including that sort of knowledge makes Bob get the tossups." Playing semantic games to placate Bob will lead me to endlessly qualify the definition of quizbowl in terms of knowledge to keep problem-solving skills out.
Okay, so do you accept that "establishing the formula needed to solve the problem" is legit? Because if so, at least on some level, easy computation can be memorized. (the multiplication tables, the basic rules for multiplying variables, etc). Strangely, this would be similar to a math competition in quite few ways.
No, because that step comes after all the steps that would come in quiz bowl.
Yisun wrote: I believe that I've addressed all your arguments against what I claim to be the helpful effects of harder questions. If I've missed any or you disagree, feel free to challenge my position. But it's a bit hard for me to really argue against these nebulous "fundamental problems." Also, I've asked a couple times whether there are indeed buzzer races, as some have claimed, or many dead tossups. Which is it?
Pretty much almost every one is one or the other. Either the teams know it on the exact same clue or they don't know it at all. Also, the fundamental problems include: when tossups die and go to heaven, computation "tossups" go to an ENTIRELY SEPARATE HEAVEN, since they're not quiz bowl. They test a skill. That's not quiz bowl. Including things that are not quiz bowl in a competition that is ostensibly quizbowl is confusing. Also, they'll cause more dead tossups (I grant you that they may prevent some buzzer races, but if they were run in a manner that was quiz bowl they probably would not. But they wouldn't be.).
So a large part of my point is that arithmetic can be kept to more or less a minimum that is equivalent to "can you remember your multiplication tables." So I fail to see how your second point is in any way accurate. And what's wrong with Mathcounts, seriously? It does have questions that involve too much computations, but that doesn't mean the entire competition revolves around it. They can more or less be taken out by making the numbers nicer.
Matt's point about arithmetic isn't precisely on point; what he's saying is that you're unironically supporting positions that are usually gross mischaracterizations of what people say. Here's the thing. What's wrong with Mathcounts is that it's not quiz bowl. it's a great competition! I wish my school had had a team, or whatever would have made it possible for me to participate. But there's no substantial reason for putting Mathcounts in quiz bowl than there is a competition that tests how quickly you can learn a choreographed dance routine. I'm fairly certain that learning a dance routine involves skills that are also applied in academics; hell, you have to remember stuff, right? But besides the fact that the results with the bad teams would be horrifying, we think "that's crazy!" because it's not quiz bowl, and obviously so. The fact that response speed matters and the fact that it is taught in school along with facts is essentially the only thing that more closely weds computation to actual quiz bowl.
I guess what I'd like to see is an argument for why things currently in the canon are there besides "everyone knows them" and "they are important" (so are a lot of things), since these seem to be being used a lot against harder math.
Why else should something be in the canon besides academic importance and answerability?

EDIT: just saw the new post
I was going to ask what you meant by the differentiation between "the formula" and "the answer" (they would be the same thing if all parameters were given in variables). But I think this is just getting caught up in semantics. Is the idea that those things which are valid to be tested for in quizbowl correspond only to those things which it is possible to memorize (for lack of a better word)?
Yes.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

styxman wrote:We care about knowledge of the concept because that is what quizbowl tests - knowledge, NOT application.
Tell that to the person that wrote a "presidential numbers" bonus at the Richard Montgomery tourney we went to... having to have all the presidents' numbers in office memorized to solve math problems. Ugh.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

yisun wrote:
This is because, in a pyramidal noncomp question as described, we don't care about the knowledge of solving a problem! We care about knowledge of the concept because that is what quizbowl tests - knowledge, NOT application. When you add the application aspect to the tossup, you make it a different style of tossup as compared to the rest of the match, and that's bad.
I'm not sure how "knowledge of solving a problem" is not a valid type of knowledge.
This is getting at exactly what I think I'm not quite expressing well enough. Knowledge of solving a problem is most certainly a valid type of knowledge. That does not, however, mean it must be included in quizbowl. Many valid types of knowledge aren't included. Essay writing is valid - it's not included because writing essays doesn't fit with the structure of a tossup. I feel that tossups that include computation similarly do not fit the structure.
I agree that this is strangely similar to a math competition - in fact, I wouldn't object to a math competition that used solely this type of question in tossup form a la quizbowl. What I object to is combining this perfectly acceptable math competition with quizbowl because it doesn't follow the same convention of "knowledge, not application" as quizbowl.
Sorry about this, I meant "not similar to a math competition," but somehow typed the exact opposite. I would object quite a bit to such a math competition, since math competitions are about thinking and solving, and (largely) not about knowledge.
Ahh - in that case, I should mention that I was planning on typing something along the lines of "I also wouldn't object to a math competition that did none of these types of problems, nor would I object to a math competition that divided problems between the two styles -- as long as they announced that both forms of question are integral to the competition." It's this last bit that I'm a stickler for - I would likely not have a problem with computational math as long as it was widely acknowledged that there would be two different types of questions. Good quizbowl, however, is widely acknowledged as knowledge-based recall without application, and computation contradicts that definition. It is NOT that computation (or even math in general), by its nature, is bad. It is that computational tossups do not fit the tossup structure, and that error is bad. It is no different than an antipyramidal tossup aggravating players.

You are absolutely correct that some amount of easy computation can be memorized. But that's not my point. I don't care if it is absolutely instantaneous to compute an answer once you have the formula - the fact that the computation step exists serves to alienate the tossup from the rest of the packet, and that's bad. No other tossup requires both knowledge and application.
I was going to ask what you meant by the differentiation between "the formula" and "the answer" (they would be the same thing if all parameters were given in variables). But I think this is just getting caught up in semantics.
When you say "give all parameters in variables", what will the answer look like? I believe your options are along the lines of "Fundamental Theorem of Algebra" or "4x squared" - that one option is the name of the formula you're testing, and the other is the variables when the formula has been applied. I may not be interpreting what you're shooting for correctly, so fix me if I'm wrong, but if I'm right, the latter falls victim to a step of mathematical computation. Even if it is as simple as variable manipulation, it is still an action that doesn't happen in other subjects and therefore bad. The former is non-computational, I believe; I'd love to see an example tossup to make sure I'm on the same page. Non-computational math is acceptable as long as it is pyramidal and all the other things we expect out of other tossup subjects - the reasoning being that the extra step isn't there anymore.
Is the idea that those things which are valid to be tested for in quizbowl correspond only to those things which it is possible to memorize (for lack of a better word)?
Yes-ish...I think that there is a better word, but I'm not coming up with it. What I will say is that memorize is not the correct word because pyramidal quizbowl is about understanding as much of a subject as you can, and memorize (to me) has connotations of lists of author-titles and exponent tables and the like.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

We are still talking about high schoolers, right? Right.

You have absolutely no way of comprehending how incredibly far above the above-average high school math student you were in high school. The high school math canon should not come to include any concepts so abstruse as to merely merit a passing mention in Math 55, just because it's "studied before or during the first year of college"--and it probably shouldn't include things that are far easier either. Even though there are indeed such things as math books, there's a much greater barrier to entry for math than for other sciences; the fact that you'll have to make them ass-easy at the end to avoid too many dead tossups will leave teams content to use combinatorics instead of Catalan numbers, et cetera.

Also--put you and John in a room and it's very possible that math questions will be a buzzer race on an early clue. Having good math players will just sometimes do that, right?
You're misinterpreting what I'm saying. Just to clear up a few things: (1) I don't know what Alexander-Leftchetz duality actually is. I know that it exists, and that it has something to do vaguely with algebraic topology. (2) In no way do I think that it or anything like it should appear in any high school quiz bowl question, because, well, I don't really know anything about it. (3) It's funny how I'd have no idea about the above-average high school math student, since I recall attending four years of classes with, shockingly, high school math students. (4) My objection to the Alexander-Leftchetz duality clue and the "this word appears in lots of math concept" tossups in general is exactly that neither me nor John had any clue about what the thing actually was. This is not a great example because the clue is pretty hard, but similar problems exist in other such tossups -- there's no difference between knowing that the thing exists and knowing what it is. (5) The reason I brought this up was that somebody made a point along the lines of "there are plenty of viable common link tossups within the existing HS math theory tossup," and I think these tossups are annoying to play on (though very easy to write).
Why else should something be in the canon besides academic importance and answerability?
Well, who defines importance? I find the origin of the Can-Can to be not at all important, but it's been pointed out before in this thread to be the source of importance of [insert name of opera(?) about Orpheus]. On the other hand, I find Desargues' Theorem to be both important and awesome; it's just as within reach of a high school geometry student as an arbitrary opera is a high school music or literature student. But that doesn't mean that it's "important" in this sense. My opinion doesn't and shouldn't have any bearing on this, so who's does?
Matt's point about arithmetic isn't precisely on point; what he's saying is that you're unironically supporting positions that are usually gross mischaracterizations of what people say.
The reason I started posting on this thread was I read some old ones, saw some people lay down behind these mischaracterizations, and didn't really get it.
Is the idea that those things which are valid to be tested for in quizbowl correspond only to those things which it is possible to memorize (for lack of a better word)?
Yes.
This is getting at exactly what I think I'm not quite expressing well enough. Knowledge of solving a problem is most certainly a valid type of knowledge. That does not, however, mean it must be included in quizbowl. Many valid types of knowledge aren't included. Essay writing is valid - it's not included because writing essays doesn't fit with the structure of a tossup. I feel that tossups that include computation similarly do not fit the structure.
Fair enough. If everyone agrees with this standard, I'll concede that it's legit. I agree that its this definition of "knowledge" that's been making a lot of this discussion not too productive.
Yes-ish...I think that there is a better word, but I'm not coming up with it. What I will say is that memorize is not the correct word because pyramidal quizbowl is about understanding as much of a subject as you can, and memorize (to me) has connotations of lists of author-titles and exponent tables and the like.
This bothers me as well and is actually what led me to argue for computational math, since I feel like such an approach would be remarkably (and probably excessively) effective in studying for theoretical math.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

yisun wrote:
Yes-ish...I think that there is a better word, but I'm not coming up with it. What I will say is that memorize is not the correct word because pyramidal quizbowl is about understanding as much of a subject as you can, and memorize (to me) has connotations of lists of author-titles and exponent tables and the like.
This bothers me as well and is actually what led me to argue for computational math, since I feel like such an approach would be remarkably (and probably excessively) effective in studying for theoretical math.
A while back, Peter McCorquodale tried to make a similar argument regarding computation in science questions. His arguments for it did not hold water, and neither do yours for similar reasons.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:
styxman wrote:We care about knowledge of the concept because that is what quizbowl tests - knowledge, NOT application.
Tell that to the person that wrote a "presidential numbers" bonus at the Richard Montgomery tourney we went to... having to have all the presidents' numbers in office memorized to solve math problems. Ugh.
That's really awful. Shame, Keith and Feldman, for letting that through.
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Re: Math Question Discourse: From "An Open Letter to NAQT"

I was in the room that Keith was reading it for. He was extremely proud. And extremely disappointed that we all didn't have our presidents' numbers memorized to answer Hoover divided by Jackson plus Kennedy minus Fillmore or whatever crap he asked.
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Re: Math Question Discourse: From "An Open Letter to NAQT"

Those are the type of "math" questions that NTAE/Panasonic really likes in its history. While I admit one "ought" to know those numbers, it is not in-depth knowledge that is significant in value. For game shows, sure, it's nice to know "these things in common were ordinally fifth..." but just because it is, doesn't mean anything to the appreciation of that item.
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Re: Math Question Discourse: From "An Open Letter to NAQT"

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Hoover divided by Jackson
This, at least, is doable - Jackson is early enough that all you need to know about Hoover is about when he was around. But the other stuff is just useless memorization.
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Re: Math Question Discourse: From "An Open Letter to NAQT"

Why is it neccesary to resort to such a controversial method of measuring mathematical abilities(presuming mathematics to be within the pervue of quizbowl, a reasonable proposition with much backing),when they can be measure either by theory(slowy introduced to allow time for canon expansion), or Mathcomp bonuses, which avoids much of the pyrimidality issues? Just give an extra slot to a mathcomp bonus, so mathcomp is somthing like 0/1 or 0/2 and give whatever topic was going to get the bonus the tossup freed up by removing the Mathcomp tossup.
Then again, the MATHCOMP debate seems to have taken on a life of its own.

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Re: Math Question Discourse: From "An Open Letter to NAQT"

Thor the Bum-Hammer wrote:This, at least, is doable - Jackson is early enough that all you need to know about Hoover is about when he was around. But the other stuff is just useless memorization.
Composing songs about Jackson's secretary of war boning Peggy O'Neale is also possible. In the spirit of a NAQT "given the literary character, name the predominating humor" bonus, we could divide an arbitrary and baseless approximation of Eaton's place on the Kinsey scale by O'Neale's. But why, god, why?
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Re: Math Question Discourse: From "An Open Letter to NAQT"

Do we agree with the premise that "Questions [Tossups] that start [or end] with 'Why' are bad"?

If so then I propose that "Questions that start with 'How' are bad" for the exact same reasons - complete lack of pyramidality, difficulty in deciding whether an answer is correct, etc.

Now when you ask a computational math question, you ask two things:
1. How do you solve this problem?
2. Use the numbers given, do some computation, and arrive at a numerical answer.

NAQT sometimes attempts to get around the problem with (1) by giving people how to do the question, but that still leaves a problem with (2) - namely, that "doing the math" isn't a quizbowl skill. The idea of using variables circumvents (2), but if you agree with me that "How" questions are bad, then that still leaves a problem with (1). "Knowledge of How to Solve the Problem" is exactly that - a "How" question.

Also, the argument that "computational math is less likely to be affected by memorization than theoretical math" is patently false. If you go into any 2 standard NAQT IS sets, chances are you will find the same exact "problem solving strategies" in the 2 sets. The reason for this is that there's 40-50 computation tossups in an IS set and that's roughly equivalent to the number of "strategies that can reasonably be asked at the HS level". Let's face it, most kids aren't going to know Catalan numbers and aren't going to be able to do Gauss-Jordan elimination in 10 seconds, but most of them can solve 2 equations in 2 variables, work with Pythagorean triples, and find what value is needed to result in a certain average. So all you really have to do is recognize which "trick" is necessary to solve the problem the fastest, then do the math. If you have 2 teams with excellent math players, this turns into a "who can do the problem the fastest"; if you have 2 teams with poor math players this turns into a dead tossup. If I give the numbers 9 and 40 the rooms with good math players are going to buzzer race with "41" while the rooms with poor math players are going to try to figure out sqrt(1681) in 10 seconds and hope they're right, or worse, just guess a number. But if I write on the Pythagorean Theorem instead I can be pretty sure that I'll at least get one person in every room to buzz off "FTP name this theorem related to right triangles which most generally says that a squared plus b squared equals c squared", while a team who knows more about the derivation and uses of the Pythagorean Theorem is going to get the question faster than a team that has to wait for that giveaway.

Apparently your argument for why memorization is so useful for theoretical math is that people reflex buzz off of words. Here's a huge reality check: PEOPLE REFLEX BUZZ OFF OF WORDS ANYWAY. This doesn't mean they won't be motivated to actually learn stuff about whatever they reflex buzz off.
everyday847 wrote:Composing songs about Jackson's secretary of war boning Peggy O'Neale is also possible
Man I should so do this.
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Re: Math Question Discourse: From "An Open Letter to NAQT"

If so then I propose that "Questions that start with 'How' are bad" for the exact same reasons - complete lack of pyramidality, difficulty in deciding whether an answer is correct, etc.
This is a bit irrelevant since I now agree that computational questions are probably outside the scope of quizbowl, but I don't think these two particular problems apply here. You can easily verify when two algebraic expressions are the same, and there is a unique correct answer, something not true of "Why?" questions.
Apparently your argument for why memorization is so useful for theoretical math is that people reflex buzz off of words. Here's a huge reality check: PEOPLE REFLEX BUZZ OFF OF WORDS ANYWAY. This doesn't mean they won't be motivated to actually learn stuff about whatever they reflex buzz off.
Do you agree that questions where people are more likely to reflex buzz are worse than those where people are less likely to? The thing with normal math tossups (not common-link) is that there is usually a section at the beginning of rather detailed actual information about the subject as opposed to a bunch of names and such. I think the closest analogy would be something about the plot of a novel; this rewards people with deeper knowledge of a subject. In a common-link/common-name tossup, many clues are often "hey, there's this thing in math named after these two guys that contains the word that's the answer ("basis" or "duality" or "expansion")." This doesn't test any deep knowledge, and I claim that it's bad.
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Re: Math Question Discourse: From "An Open Letter to NAQT"

yisun wrote:Do you agree that questions where people are more likely to reflex buzz are worse than those where people are less likely to? The thing with normal math tossups (not common-link) is that there is usually a section at the beginning of rather detailed actual information about the subject as opposed to a bunch of names and such. I think the closest analogy would be something about the plot of a novel; this rewards people with deeper knowledge of a subject. In a common-link/common-name tossup, many clues are often "hey, there's this thing in math named after these two guys that contains the word that's the answer ("basis" or "duality" or "expansion")." This doesn't test any deep knowledge, and I claim that it's bad.
Yeah, a common link on dualities that starts with the name of one is bad just like a tossup on works of Thomas Hardy that starts off "In his poem "Hap," he writes 'If but some angry God...' "--in either case you're rewarding title-knowledge above deep knowledge (and first-line knowledge above deep knowledge in the latter case. You can have a common link on dualities--and in fact you ideally do--by describing Alexander-Leftchetz, or giving a property of it, then finally giving the name.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

styxman wrote:
I agree that this is strangely similar to a math competition - in fact, I wouldn't object to a math competition that used solely this type of question in tossup form a la quizbowl. What I object to is combining this perfectly acceptable math competition with quizbowl because it doesn't follow the same convention of "knowledge, not application" as quizbowl..
At the Princeton University Math Competition there is a buzzer contest with math themed questions, such as "This blind<buzz>". (The answer was Euler, obviously). The problem with math competitions using tossup form is that either you have a mental arithmetic race or you have a question no-one gets. And if we want to ask about random theorems in canon we are going to face issues. There are just to many theorems. Asking about concepts is a bit better, although a skilled mathlete can quickly see through the smoke and mirrors surrounding an opening clue. Asking about famous mathematicians is opening up a new can of worms. So while the current system sucks, so do the radical alternatives.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

negatron wrote:
styxman wrote:
I agree that this is strangely similar to a math competition - in fact, I wouldn't object to a math competition that used solely this type of question in tossup form a la quizbowl. What I object to is combining this perfectly acceptable math competition with quizbowl because it doesn't follow the same convention of "knowledge, not application" as quizbowl..
At the Princeton University Math Competition there is a buzzer contest with math themed questions, such as "This blind<buzz>". (The answer was Euler, obviously). The problem with math competitions using tossup form is that either you have a mental arithmetic race or you have a question no-one gets. And if we want to ask about random theorems in canon we are going to face issues. There are just to many theorems. Asking about concepts is a bit better, although a skilled mathlete can quickly see through the smoke and mirrors surrounding an opening clue. Asking about famous mathematicians is opening up a new can of worms. So while the current system sucks, so do the radical alternatives.
Dude, what? Have you ever even seen math theory questions in quizbowl? I just went through EFT2 to find the first math tossup I could, and here's what came up:

15. Hadamard's infinite product is one expansion of it, and it can also be expanded into a Laurent series using Stieltjets constants.  The Dirichlet L-function with chi as a trivial character is equivalent to it, and its value at 3 is known as Apery's constant.  Work by Ramanujan showed that its value at -1 is equal to -1/12, and his namesake series for it shows that it is zero at any negative even number.  Hardy showed that it has an infinite number of roots with real part ½, but it is not yet known whether all of its roots lie on that critical line.  FTP, name this function intimately related to the prime number theorem and the subject of a namesake unsolved hypothesis.

Asking about mathematicians can be done, but starting an Euler tossup by saying he's blind is stupid on any level and not what's anyone's proposing ("This world leader, who held his hand inside his coat..."). Similarly, this is about a concept, but there's no smoke and mirrors for mathletes to see through. When done by NAQT, math theory, like everything else, wil be really fraudable; when done well, it's by far the better alternative to computation.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

EFT2, via A Servant wrote: 15. Hadamard's infinite product is one expansion of it, and it can also be expanded into a Laurent series using Stieltjets constants.  The Dirichlet L-function with chi as a trivial character is equivalent to it, and its value at 3 is known as Apery's constant.  Work by Ramanujan showed that its value at -1 is equal to -1/12, and his namesake series for it shows that it is zero at any negative even number.  Hardy showed that it has an infinite number of roots with real part ½, but it is not yet known whether all of its roots lie on that critical line.  FTP, name this function intimately related to the prime number theorem and the subject of a namesake unsolved hypothesis.
Yes. This is exactly what the math canon should look like. See, it's a good thing that math has "too many theorems"--lots of them are reasonable for even an undergrad-only canon.

Honestly, I don't see why math tossups have to be so different from, say, physics tossups. Seriously, why? I mean, nobody seems to ever propose using kinematics problems as tossups. There are plenty of physics problems that can be solved by knowledgeable people in 30 seconds, and they would demonstrate knowledge of equations just as well as computational math tossups would. (They would also have all the same issues.) So what's the distinction here?

(As a side note, Illinois high schools do have physics computation tossups, but they also have drivers ed tossups...)
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Three-Bean Otz wrote: (As a side note, Illinois high schools do have physics computation tossups, but they also have drivers ed tossups...)
you want my babies to die in car wrecks you two-bit academic
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Rico Suavé wrote: (As a side note, Illinois high schools do have physics computation tossups, but they also have drivers ed tossups...)
Why don't you get it out of the way, and say that we burn witches to the stake and eat babies by the light of the bonfires.
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Re: An Open Letter to NAQT

Tegan wrote:we burn witches to the stake and eat babies by the light of the bonfires.
Done.
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