### Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Posted:

**Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:54 pm**When it comes to the standard quizbowl distribution, a lot of the reasoning behind why things are the way they are is because of tradition. The reason that 20/20 is the standard round length boils down to tradition, although it has turned out to work pretty well; I imagine that's the same reason we have 4/4 history and 4/4 literature and 4/4 science, and more specifically why we have 1/1 biology and 1/1 chemistry and 1/1 physics and 1/1 other science. On balance this has been fine, but in the specific case of the science portion of the distribution I'd be interested in hearing people's opinions without the justification of tradition.

Obviously, as the title of this thread suggests, I'm approaching this conversation with the opinion that the science distribution doesn't allot enough space for math. (I don't really like the idea of referring to math as science, since it feels meaningfully different to me, but quizbowl custom is to place math in the science distribution and I'll follow that here.) In the ACF Nationals discussion, Ike noted that "the amount of math in a normal set is about the same as the number of American poetry questions in a set." Ike's comments suggest that that seems low to him, and it certainly seems low to me. I think that it would be reasonable at the college level to assign 1/1 of a standard packet to the broad category of mathematics (including applications like statistics and computer science), and I'd like to hear the arguments of people who agree or disagree.

I'm sure people can come up with better arguments for expanding the math distribution than I'll provide here, but fundamentally it seems to me that quizbowl is a game for intellectually curious people, and intellectually curious people are drawn to mathematics. The connections between math and thought are obvious, and in particular plenty of philosophy deals with logic, which connects back to mathematics. Anecdotally, when I talk to quizbowl players who are intellectually curious but don't specialize in science, I find that a lot of them are interested in higher-level math. From what I've seen, it's more unusual for quizbowl players who aren't science majors to take organic chemistry than it is for people in that group to take analysis. In my time staffing college tournaments, I've seen a lot of newer players and teams get particularly excited at hearing a math question. It seems to me that the best reason to prioritize biology and chemistry and physics in the distribution over mathematics would be that players engage with those subjects more, but I don't have any real reason to believe that that's the case.

That said, one subject's portion of the distribution can't be increased without reducing that of another. In order to increase the math distribution to 1/1, either other science would have to be cut out entirely, or the science portion of the distribution would have to be increased (this is the solution Ike suggested), or at least one of biology and chemistry and physics would have to be reduced from 1/1. There are obvious reasons that each of those solutions would be unappealing, but I'm not a science player and I don't feel qualified to choose from among them. I'm just interested in hearing what people think that the portion of the distribution allotted to math in comparison to those science subcategories should be, and why they feel the way they do.

Obviously, as the title of this thread suggests, I'm approaching this conversation with the opinion that the science distribution doesn't allot enough space for math. (I don't really like the idea of referring to math as science, since it feels meaningfully different to me, but quizbowl custom is to place math in the science distribution and I'll follow that here.) In the ACF Nationals discussion, Ike noted that "the amount of math in a normal set is about the same as the number of American poetry questions in a set." Ike's comments suggest that that seems low to him, and it certainly seems low to me. I think that it would be reasonable at the college level to assign 1/1 of a standard packet to the broad category of mathematics (including applications like statistics and computer science), and I'd like to hear the arguments of people who agree or disagree.

I'm sure people can come up with better arguments for expanding the math distribution than I'll provide here, but fundamentally it seems to me that quizbowl is a game for intellectually curious people, and intellectually curious people are drawn to mathematics. The connections between math and thought are obvious, and in particular plenty of philosophy deals with logic, which connects back to mathematics. Anecdotally, when I talk to quizbowl players who are intellectually curious but don't specialize in science, I find that a lot of them are interested in higher-level math. From what I've seen, it's more unusual for quizbowl players who aren't science majors to take organic chemistry than it is for people in that group to take analysis. In my time staffing college tournaments, I've seen a lot of newer players and teams get particularly excited at hearing a math question. It seems to me that the best reason to prioritize biology and chemistry and physics in the distribution over mathematics would be that players engage with those subjects more, but I don't have any real reason to believe that that's the case.

That said, one subject's portion of the distribution can't be increased without reducing that of another. In order to increase the math distribution to 1/1, either other science would have to be cut out entirely, or the science portion of the distribution would have to be increased (this is the solution Ike suggested), or at least one of biology and chemistry and physics would have to be reduced from 1/1. There are obvious reasons that each of those solutions would be unappealing, but I'm not a science player and I don't feel qualified to choose from among them. I'm just interested in hearing what people think that the portion of the distribution allotted to math in comparison to those science subcategories should be, and why they feel the way they do.