My own made-up examples were taken from last year's Scobol Solo. I wrote 20 Pyramidal Math Tossups for this year's Solo, so these are real questions used in a real tournament. The argument that most computational math questions used today are bad is not a good argument for eliminating computational math, since such an argument ten years ago could have led to the end of all of quizbowl. If we counted every tournament in the country, the same argument probably could be used to call for the end of quizbowl still today.Matt Weiner wrote:No, they're not red herrings. They are what the computation questions actually look like in everything from Chip sets to IHSA to NAQT HSNCT. Your own made-up examples are the fake ones, because they not only are they not what the real questions look like, they are also so nongeneralizable to different types of math that they are impossible to implement (even if they were good ideas) in sets that require anywhere from 30 to 100 math calculation questions.Shcool wrote:However, well written computational questions test for the understanding of high school mathematics better than noncomputational questions do. Furthermore, they fit in to the flow of a match considerably better than the red herrings they are compared to in threads like these. One of the qualities that makes quizbowl great is the breadth of knowledge it covers, and including computational math broadens that breadth.

Furthermore, "breadth of knowledge" just as easily includes the math theory questions that most high school sets exclude in favor of calculation, as it does exclude calculation in good sets. In fact, it better applies to what is excluded from IHSA sets, because math theory can be asked about almost any topic in the vast world of mathematics, whereas the canon of things that you can expect high school quizbowl players to calculate in 10 seconds has about thirty items in it. This is not even getting into the entirely valid "if 'breadth of knowledge' is worth writing non-quizbowl questions for, why not have physical challenges and driver's ed" argument.

What makes quizbowl great is encouraging people to learn new things about the liberal arts canon that our schools, at all levels, are failing to teach people. Replacing any portion of quizbowl with a fourteenth competitive opportunity for people with the innate ability to do multiplication fast, on top of all the redundant competitions for that which already exist, would serve no purpose, encourage more insularity, and work against the spread of a "breadth of knowledge."

I think that math computation questions generally encourage students to learn math, and good computation questions generally encourage students to learn good math. Students may learn Algebra and Geometry in the first half of their high school career or earlier, but they generally don't master those subjects, just like they finish studying US History during junior year but haven't mastered it.

I agree that noncomputational math has its place, and next week I hope to start a thread showing that the noncomputational math canon is large enough to play a significant role in high school quizbowl (as it already does to some extent), but I also think that, if good computational math questions can be written, then they should be used even though there is a real difference between computational math and other quizbowl questions. I believe that computational math questions differentiate understanding and encourage learning.