Why don't we have 1/1 math?

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Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by 1.82 » 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.
Last edited by 1.82 on Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Borrowing 100,000 Arrows » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:56 pm

This guy gets it.

EDIT: Finn, Graham, some other people, and I talked about this over the weekend. One idea we had was combining religion and myth into a single 1/1 (since those two categories seem to be the least studied in the academy amongst the current distro), while expanding math to 1/1.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Fucitol » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:05 pm

Because sets (not counting ACF Nationals 2019) have 1/1 math and usually more. Math that normal people usually care about is clued in almost every science tossup (and as you pointed out logic-based philosophy/thought TUs and probably some SS/Econ). There is no need for 1/1 "Content that is taught by the math department that has no physical applications." I would advocate for that distribution to be even lower than the 0.5/0.5 that is usually done by tournaments (again exempting ACF Nationals 2019), but 1/1 is absurd.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Iamteehee » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:10 pm

I don't buy arguments for more math along the lines of "math is extremely important to all the sciences", "there's a lot of group theory in particle physics and chemistry" and "tensors are really important in a lot of physics", because math things like groups and tensors, insofar as they are related to non-math categories in science, already show up approximately in proportion to their importance in those categories.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Auroni » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:20 pm

Because there's no clear reason that math should beat out any number of equally deserving things for a 1/1 slot among 20/20; if, hypothetically, the standard quizbowl tournament were to be 24/24, then I think math would have a case.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Borrowing 100,000 Arrows » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:23 pm

I think the problem with both James and Geoff's arguments are that they presuppose that math is only interesting insofar as it's useful in science, and I think that this stems from the fact that math is currently grouped with science in the distribution. However, math really isn't a science; you can't, for example, know that the propositions of any scientific theory are true with probability one. I think we should not only expand the amount of math, but treat it as a category separate from the current 4/4 science.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by touchpack » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:25 pm

Auroni wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:20 pm
Because there's no clear reason that math should beat out any number of equally deserving things for a 1/1 slot among 20/20; if, hypothetically, the standard quizbowl tournament were to be 24/24, then I think math would have a case.
Definitely agreed with this, but even then, I'm not sure math would necessarily need more than 0.5/0.5. I love NAQT's science distribution (which has a hair under 0.5/0.5 math) because the extra room given by the 24/24 allows for exploration of things like cross-disciplinary questions, questions on engineering/technology/other science-adjacent topics, and science history/culture, without sacrificing anything from the standard science categories. The 4/4 allotment in the standard 20/20 unfortunately is just a little bit too limiting (unless we decided to do a per-tournament rather than a per-packet distribution--then we could say, reduce the big 3 sciences to something like 0.9/0.9 and use the extra 0.3/0.3 to explore these other topics, but I suspect most players like the per-packet distribution and would balk at that).
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:35 pm

pragmatically it's because nobody has announced a set having 1/1 math before and/or done it well enough to indicate we should continue to?
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by khannate » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:36 pm

What does 1/1 math mean?

Does it mean 1/1 pure math? If so, Caleb is right about this being independent of the sciences, but I think there probably isn't enough interest in writing or playing this much pure math. Does it mean 1/1 math as scientists interact with it? If so, James and Geoffrey make reasonable points about this already appearing in the existing science distribution. Does it mean 1/1 stats/data science/math in the social sciences? If so, I think this is definitely something neglected in the existing distribution that could use more attention.

More generally, I think 1/1 math is a good idea in so far as it would allow for more questions about math that do not already appear (engineering, more theoretical CS content, stats/data science, etc.), but agree in general with Auroni that the question is not "would it be good to have 1/1 math?" but "is adding 1/1 math worth cutting back on other things?"
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by vinteuil » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:39 pm

touchpack wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:25 pm
Auroni wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:20 pm
Because there's no clear reason that math should beat out any number of equally deserving things for a 1/1 slot among 20/20; if, hypothetically, the standard quizbowl tournament were to be 24/24, then I think math would have a case.
Definitely agreed with this, but even then, I'm not sure math would necessarily need more than 0.5/0.5. I love NAQT's science distribution (which has a hair under 0.5/0.5 math) because the extra room given by the 24/24 allows for exploration of things like cross-disciplinary questions, questions on engineering/technology/other science-adjacent topics, and science history/culture, without sacrificing anything from the standard science categories. The 4/4 allotment in the standard 20/20 unfortunately is just a little bit too limiting (unless we decided to do a per-tournament rather than a per-packet distribution--then we could say, reduce the big 3 sciences to something like 0.9/0.9 and use the extra 0.3/0.3 to explore these other topics, but I suspect most players like the per-packet distribution and would balk at that).
I agree with this.

I also don't think 1/1 math scales up well to higher difficulties. I agree with Naveed that many "curious" people take lower- and intermediate-level math courses (e.g. a first course in real or complex analysis, to use your example), but there are very few graduate-level math experts in quizbowl, and very few people learning about graduate+-level material on their own.

Something I'd be in favor of (maybe along the lines of what Caleb has said?): 1/1 "pure math, applied math, statistics, quantitative methods, etc." This could help alleviate some of the pressure in the social science distribution (having to fit both theory and more quantitative material into such a tight space!). [EDIT: Samir just said this better than me]
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:46 pm

For starters, people who want a tournament with 1/1 math should feel free to write tournaments with 1/1 math! There is no one "correct" distribution.

As a non-science player who likes learning about science, my sympathies are with James' argument. Pure math already shows up fairly heavily in other areas of science, particularly in physics where you have a lot of questions that ask "what sort of mathematical operation is performed to obtain this result."

If we were to carve out some additional material for other science, I suspect we could shunt some more "on the fence" biochem questions into bio, some more similarly "on the fence" quantum chem questions into physics, and perhaps come up with a per-packet distribution like this that represents a minor alteration from what we have:

1/1 bio (incl. biochem)
1 question on chemistry (orgo, inorgo, etc.)
1 question on applied chemistry (i.e. analytic techniques) or applied math / data science / engineering theory
1/1 physics
1/1 other science (as traditionally split, but statistics don't go here unless you're talking about the theory behind them)

This would ideally work out to about 0.25/0.25 analytic chem and 0.25/0.25 dedicated applied math/data science per tournament, which seems pretty fair to me. Since applied math shows up throughout other parts of the distribution already, I think this would be a reasonable way to balance the various interests in this thread while giving us a decent amount of room in each tournament to explore more such topics.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by tiwonge » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:54 pm

Include 0.5/0.5 science-adjacent math in the Science distribution and 0.5/0.5 pure, or non science-adjacent math in the Thought distribution, along with Philosophy and Social Sciences. :)
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by otsasonr » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:01 pm

Fucitol wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:05 pm
Because sets (not counting ACF Nationals 2019) have 1/1 math and usually more. Math that normal people usually care about is clued in almost every science tossup (and as you pointed out logic-based philosophy/thought TUs and probably some SS/Econ). There is no need for 1/1 "Content that is taught by the math department that has no physical applications." I would advocate for that distribution to be even lower than the 0.5/0.5 that is usually done by tournaments (again exempting ACF Nationals 2019), but 1/1 is absurd.
Well if we're cutting things with no physical application, there are tons of literature questions just lying around.

I think this is a poor argument for a few reasons, foremost among which is the classic fallacy that math is only interesting insofar as it is "useful". Most people who study math are not primarily interested in it because it is useful. They are interested in it because it is beautiful, fun, or otherwise attractive to them. Even people like myself, who essentially study applied mathematics, are at least partially drawn to it for aesthetic reasons, and not solely because it has practical applications.

As a further rejoinder, I will assert that there is no branch of mathematics which is not "useful" in some way, and even if we cannot pinpoint a specific practical application at the moment, that is far from being proof that there will never be a use. Hardy famously claimed that number theory could have no practical use, and was shown to be completely wrong by the subsequent development of cryptography. And in case anyone wants to jump in about category theory being far too abstract to be useful or interesting to the non-mathematician, I will point everyone to John Baez's blog.

To the other point, while some theoretical physics tossups can certainly sound closer to math than anything else, the fact that math is involved in those tossups does not mean they are an adequate replacement for tossups on the mathematics itself. The fundamental theory of even the most "practical" of mathematics, for example differential equations, is far from properly emphasized by any physics question, and much less by questions on chemistry and biology.

The question of where we should cut material in order to accommodate more math seems to have an obvious answer to me, especially once we note Ike's comment from the Nats thread. Math currently takes as much space as American poetry. I am not trying to say that American poetry is unimportant, but the idea that American poetry on its own is as academically important as all of mathematics seems completely preposterous to me. I would suggest that the literature distribution taking up a full 4/4 is a significant constraint on the rest of the distribution, and that this weighting is not justified by the relative importance of the study of literature to, for example, the sum total of the other arts (3/3) or social science (1/1). The emphasis on literature in the current quizbowl distribution seems to be more of a historical accident, or perhaps a reflection of the relative ease of writing questions on literature, than it is a fair evaluation of the place of the study of literature in the academy. While my opening comment is mostly facetious, in that I certainly do not believe that we should discard literature because it is not "practical", I do believe that we should be taking a hard look at how much space is devoted to literature. I will also note my obvious bias here, in that I am good at math and not at literature.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Fucitol » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:04 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:46 pm
For starters, people who want a tournament with 1/1 math should feel free to write tournaments with 1/1 math! There is no one "correct" distribution.
Not to beat this dead horse again, but do that at something like Lederberg or WAO or Sun God or Terrapin, not ACF Nationals 2019. At least not until it is standard practice.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Fucitol » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:06 pm

otsasonr wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:01 pm
Fucitol wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:05 pm
Because sets (not counting ACF Nationals 2019) have 1/1 math and usually more. Math that normal people usually care about is clued in almost every science tossup (and as you pointed out logic-based philosophy/thought TUs and probably some SS/Econ). There is no need for 1/1 "Content that is taught by the math department that has no physical applications." I would advocate for that distribution to be even lower than the 0.5/0.5 that is usually done by tournaments (again exempting ACF Nationals 2019), but 1/1 is absurd.

I think this is a poor argument for a few reasons, foremost among which is the classic fallacy that math is only interesting insofar as it is "useful". Most people who study math are not primarily interested in it because it is useful. They are interested in it because it is beautiful, fun, or otherwise attractive to them. Even people like myself, who essentially study applied mathematics, are at least partially drawn to it for aesthetic reasons, and not solely because it has practical applications.
I stopped reading here because that isn't what I said.

There is interesting math that is not useful, just not 1/1 of it. The interesting math that is useful generally does bring us to 1/1 or close.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by otsasonr » Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:49 pm

Fucitol wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 2:06 pm
I stopped reading here because that isn't what I said.

There is interesting math that is not useful, just not 1/1 of it. The interesting math that is useful generally does bring us to 1/1 or close.
It very much is what you implied though. I'm sorry if you feel misconstrued, but implying that "useful" math tangentially showing up in the rest of the science distribution is sufficient coverage of that content certainly makes it seem like you don't think that it has value on its own. The phrase "math that normal people usually care about" also certainly suggests that you think that non-practical interest in mathematics is something only engaged in by abnormal people.

Might I also suggest that ignoring good faith arguments because you feel like someone didn't immediately intuit what you meant the first time around is a pretty solid way to ensure that discussion never advances anywhere?
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by krollo » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:17 pm

I thought I'd give a few suggestions on this from the perspective of a rather different mathematical education system. In short, maths degrees in the UK tend to have a very significant proportion of applied – my first-year syllabus was about half-and-half, and I've personally ended up studying almost entirely theoretical physics-aligned stuff in my third. As such, my mental idea of what counts as 'maths' content is probably quite wide compared to others.

Nevertheless, whatever you count, it certainly seems underrepresented in most sets, and as has been discussed upthread it does rather annoy me that it's often relegated to 4/4 or less in a set when it's studied about as much as any of the other major sciences, and links in with far more subjects than many of the other constituents of OSci. Though maths really needs some more room of its own, I think there's a discussion to be had as to how best to include mathematically-aligned clues in physics, chem, econ, etc. Here's a couple of questions I think did this really well:
{CMST} wrote:The Schönhage–Strassen (“SHURN-hah-guh STRASS-en”) algorithm for integer multiplication uses the negacyclic kind of an operation with this name at each step. Under certain conditions, the support of the result of this operation is equal to the sum of the support of each input by a theorem named for Edward Titchmarsh. Performing this operation on the input and the impulse response gives the output of a dynamical system. The product of the Fourier transforms of this operation’s two inputs equals the Fourier transform of this operation applied to the two inputs, according to a theorem named for it. The probability density function of the (*) sum of two random variables X and Y is this operation applied to the probability density functions of X and Y. This operation is defined for functions f and g as the integral from negative to positive infinity of “f-of-tau, times g of t-minus-tau, d-tau.” A sliding square filter layer of this name is used to detect features in a machine learning technique. For 10 points, name this operation that for two functions f and g is written as f star g, which also names a type of neural network often used in image recognition.
ANSWER: convolution [or convolutional neural networks; or convolution theorem; prompt on CNNs] <AK, Math>
Admittedly this is distributed under maths, but it mixes fairly disparate scientific areas well, making it clear why stuff is important and relevant to different areas of science rather than just being a list of 'things with no physical applications': in order, we have clues on a very important computational algorithm, an intuitive pure theorem (provided, I suppose, that you know what 'support' is), control systems stuff, a pure-sounding theorem that will come up in most 'methods for physics' courses, some stats, and machine learning. All of these are good, salient clues that, even if you don't know exactly what's going on, should make it clear why we might care about the theorems and properties.
{PIANO} wrote: 7. The advantage of this formulation is that its degrees of freedom are specified using 2 N first-order differential equations, rather than N second-order differential equations. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this formulation of mechanics which is only really useful to solve actual problems if you can make a canonical transformation to a basis in which most of the coordinates are cyclic.
ANSWER: Hamiltonian mechanics
[10] The independent variables in Hamiltonian mechanics are the N generalized coordinates and N of these generalized quantities, which, as usual in classical mechanics, are represented by a p .
ANSWER: generalized momentum [or generalized momenta ]
[10] The equations of motion and the chain rule prove that if a canonical transformation f on a symplectic manifold is time-independent, then the time evolution of f equals this specific operation applied to f. The quantum mechanical analog of this operation gives the time evolution of an operator in the Heisenberg picture. You can give either.
ANSWER: Poisson bracket with the Hamiltonian [or Poisson bracket with H ; or i over h-bar times the commutator with the Hamiltonian ; or i over h-bar times the commutator with H ; prompt on partial answers just mentioning “Poisson bracket” or “commutator” by asking “with what quantity?”] <AS>
This was presumably distributed as physics, but it's written in such a way as to reward people who has approached this area from a mathematical standpoint, and I would certainly think of it as 'applied maths'. In particular, I remember the last part being widely praised as a good idea, and I absolutely agree – as the question indicates, very similar formulae turn up in various guises in different parts of physics, giving multiple routes in, and, again, giving an idea as to why this formula might be memorable. There seems to have been an uptick in the number of bonus parts asking for simple mathematical formulae, and I think this is a great example – not at all guessable, and yet not set up so as to punish people for forgetting a constant or whatever. Finally, from the other direction, it should hopefully engage pure mathematicians by giving an idea of the deeper mathematical structure behind all this. (Once again, I'm not saying this is a substitute for direct maths questions, but it's a great example of how more applied maths can be integrated into the rest of the distribution.)

I suspect I'm rambling, so I'll summarise: my feeling is that about 0.5/0.5 straight-up pure-ish maths content, when combined with clues about the mathematical basis of physics, chemistry, compsci, and so forth, as in the question above, is about right, and indeed is what we did for CamO. Certainly there should be more maths of all shades – pure, stats, all the way over to theoretical physics – in quizbowl, but I'm not sure pumping straight up to 1/1 is the best way to go about it. Rather, asking sensible questions about differential equation theory as one comes across it in physics, including statistical tests as econ bonus answerlines, a mathematical slant to the way algorithms are asked about within compsci, and so on, seems a steadier approach. Making a concerted effort, to a greater degree than presently, of incorporating applied and applicable maths within the areas in which they are applied, would allow the natural expansion of mathematical content without massively changing the distribution.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by warum » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:36 am

Borrowing 100,000 Arrows wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:56 pm
One idea we had was combining religion and myth into a single 1/1
I like this idea. I'd use the resulting extra question to have 1/1 "mathematical sciences" including pure math, math applications, statistics, and CS, and 1/1 "other science" including Earth science, astronomy, engineering, and interdisciplinary science questions.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:39 am

warum wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:36 am
Borrowing 100,000 Arrows wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:56 pm
One idea we had was combining religion and myth into a single 1/1
I like this idea. I'd use the resulting extra question to have 1/1 "mathematical sciences" including pure math, math applications, statistics, and CS, and 1/1 "other science" including Earth science, astronomy, engineering, and interdisciplinary science questions.
I oppose combining religion and myth to a single 1/1 for both selfish and intellectual reasons.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:48 am

Do we really need more than 4/4 science in a constrained 20/20 distribution? Again, people should feel free to experiment with distributions as they see fit, but I definitely think science suffers more than most categories of locking out amateurs, and quizbowl is fundamentally a game played by amateurs. If some topics are really being under-asked, then why can't we just suck it up and make room for those sorts of things in the current science distribution by moving some things around, much as has been done in history (with historiography, archaeology, and the like) or literature (with literary criticism, marginalized group authors, etc)?

Maybe science is truly of more "inherent value" than history or literature or whatnot, and it may well be in terms of improving our everyday lives, but as far as representing topics is concerned, there are so many more topics that don't have an adequate home and which can fit into an extra 1/1 than just "more science," which already has a well-defined, large place it can go. Maybe some science topics that come up every tournament don't have to come up every tournament, so we can make room for new things. If we want more engineering and the like, then let's be prepared to make some sacrifices rather than territorially defending every single bit of the science distribution, then dismissing other topics as irrelevant to the academy, even when said topics are both highly accessible to amateurs and fundamental to understanding human cultures.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by LeoLaw » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:03 am

I support more math in quizbowl, though I am not sure about 1/1 every packet (even though I would love that for selfish reasons). I think certain arguments against more math in quizbowl in the form of "group theory and tensors already comes up in Physics" is missing the point. It might not be the best parallel but it's like saying that "Chemistry already comes up in Biology" or that "Physics already comes up in Astronomy". A Group-theorist who studies finite groups don't really ever work with anything that is applicable to Physics. If I remember correctly, a poll on Facebook indicates that the top three most popular majors for quizbowlers are History, Com sci, and Math in that order, so I would say the demand for more Math and more CS are there.
Last edited by LeoLaw on Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Ike » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:17 am

warum wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:36 am
Borrowing 100,000 Arrows wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:56 pm
One idea we had was combining religion and myth into a single 1/1
I like this idea. I'd use the resulting extra question to have 1/1 "mathematical sciences" including pure math, math applications, statistics, and CS, and 1/1 "other science" including Earth science, astronomy, engineering, and interdisciplinary science questions.
Hell yeah. I endorse this distribution, and like what you would do with the other categories here. I do think having 1/1 math is too much for many reasons.
Do we really need more than 4/4 science in a constrained 20/20 distribution? Again, people should feel free to experiment with distributions as they see fit, but I definitely think science suffers more than most categories of locking out amateurs, and quizbowl is fundamentally a game played by amateurs. If some topics are really being under-asked, then why can't we just suck it up and make room for those sorts of things in the current science distribution by moving some things around, much as has been done in history (with historiography, archaeology, and the like) or literature (with literary criticism, marginalized group authors, etc)?

Maybe science is truly of more "inherent value" than history or literature or whatnot, and it may well be in terms of improving our everyday lives, but as far as representing topics is concerned, there are so many more topics that don't have an adequate home and which can fit into an extra 1/1 than just "more science," which already has a well-defined, large place it can go. Maybe some science topics that come up every tournament don't have to come up every tournament, so we can make room for new things. If we want more engineering and the like, then let's be prepared to make some sacrifices rather than territorially defending every single bit of the science distribution, then dismissing other topics as irrelevant to the academy, even when said topics are both highly accessible to amateurs and fundamental to
I actually agree with this Will's critique of the territoriality mentality. I think a lot of the reason we are having this discussion is that for many scientists, the idea of knocking down the "big 3" is a non-starter. I completely disagree with that line of thinking, and think tournaments should start considering doing some more wonky things like only having .75/.75 biology, .75/.75 chem and .75/.75 physics so that we can play around with the freed up space. I'm hoping that what I did in Nats (and the questions I wrote for the past several ICTs especially) convinces people there's a whole lot of science that can't just fit into what has been traditionally assigned 1/1, and that by emphasizing how cross-disciplinary science can be, knocking off a few questions of the big 3 will give rise to questions that blend in features from the big 3. Given how more and more writers are aware of subdistributing, I think a lot of people would be up to this task.

Furthermore, Will is onto something about the amateur problem. And in particular, I think we as scientists and to some extent scientists as science educators have done a terrible job at writing questions that capture the interest of amateurs and non-scientists. I'm hoping that some of what I did in Nats started the process of rehabilitating that, or if it failed, got some writers to start thinking about how to do it better. A key research area in every science subfield is the "education of X" -- the scopes of which certainly includes getting people interested in the topics. It isn't a particularly sexy aspect of science, but a very important one in my opinion, and one whose methodologies, issues, and ideas we can reflect on to improve our writing.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by theMoMA » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:00 pm

Ike wrote:Furthermore, Will is onto something about the amateur problem. And in particular, I think we as scientists and to some extent scientists as science educators have done a terrible job at writing questions that capture the interest of amateurs and non-scientists. I'm hoping that some of what I did in Nats started the process of rehabilitating that, or if it failed, got some writers to start thinking about how to do it better. A key research area in every science subfield is the "education of X" -- the scopes of which certainly includes getting people interested in the topics. It isn't a particularly sexy aspect of science, but a very important one in my opinion, and one whose methodologies, issues, and ideas we can reflect on to improve our writing.
I agree with Ike's post. To offer the perspective of someone who is a decent science generalist at lower levels, occasionally can pick up a science question at a hard open tournament, and is generally interested in writing science questions and understanding topics, I find certain kinds of math questions to be nearly impenetrable. With most physics questions, even ones that are very conceptual and mathematics heavy, I can at least get a layman's idea of what kind of dynamics are at play and what kind of physical phenomenon is being described. The same is true for most other science categories; either the questions are math-heavy, in which case at least there is a physical process corresponding to the mathematical description, or they are concept-heavy, in which case there is only time and mental energy between the player and an understanding of how, say, an alkene is formed from a reaction or an enzyme facilitates a pathway. I'd say this is largely true of statistics as well, and of certain kinds of theoretical questions that involve the application of mathematics to solve mathematical or real-world problems.

If these are the kinds of math questions that people want to write, I'm all for having more of them, even though I'm sure I'd find most of them beyond my knowledge, because I'm sure they'd appeal to people who are interested in science topics generally, even if they're not three or four classes down the abstract algebra course path. But if it's going to be a space for more questions on and "finite subcovers" (Jacob just informed me that this is apparently not a particularly difficult concept, and I freely admit that my lack of knowledge of abstract math might be anomalous among largely untrained but science-interested players) and various other things that seem to me conceptually at a large remove from the non-specialist's knowledge base, I question whether this is a good idea, if it comes at the expense of questions of the kind that Ike is describing that open science out into territory more accessible and interesting to people who aren't heavy into the curriculum.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by ArnavS » Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:39 pm

This thread is a bit stale (and I participated in these discussions briefly over Discord), but I just discovered it. So, FWIW, wanted to cast my vote for something along the lines of "1/1 `pure math, applied math, statistics, quantitative methods, etc.`"

I think with statistics, differential equations, numerical methods, dynamical systems, graph theory, and "machine learning," to say nothing of the classical math fields (topology, geometry, analysis, algebra, combinatorics), there's definitely enough material for a set's worth of interesting and relevant questions per set.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Iamteehee » Mon Apr 29, 2019 2:55 pm

I think many people fail to realize how big 1/1 encompasses. All of sociology, economics, anthropology, linguistics, jurisprudence, IR theory, psychology, and some other subcategories of social science I'm probably missing make up 1/1. While it is certainly possible to write several sets worth of 1/1 mathematics without significant overlap, the nature of quizbowl writing is that only a very small portion of a given field will be represented in a given set. I don't really see how mathematics, even with an expanded distribution, merits the same share of the distribution as categories like religion, philosophy, and social science.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by ArnavS » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:46 pm

Yeah, this is incidentally good reason to do what someone else suggested and take a hard look at the lit distribution.

That's why I'm in favor of some sort of catchall math-y category ("quantitative science?"), like the one mentioned. It might be difficult to argue that math, per se, merits 1/1 attention. But I think it's much easier to sell a 1/1 quant distribution, since all sciences and many social sciences rest on quantitative foundations.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:19 pm

ArnavS wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:46 pm
Yeah, this is incidentally good reason to do what someone else suggested and take a hard look at the lit distribution.
What do we mean by "take a hard look at the lit distribution?" Perhaps the literature distribution could stand to have a bit more non-fiction than it currently does, but in general I think quizbowl in recent years has been doing a good job of bringing a lot of new topics into the literature distribution that were heavily under-represented (non-fiction / essays, memoirs, activist authors) or anathema to a lot of people (genre lit). The fact remains, though, that there's a lot of literature that people engage with and which, very importantly, can have knowledge easily tested in a quizbowl format which imposes a unique set of constraints.

I think a lot of the calls for "more of what's actually learned at school" ignore the extremely large number of these constraints which govern not just what should be asked in quizbowl, but more fundamentally what can be asked at intermediate difficulty levels, that go much beyond with "do people actually use/do this." There's a ton to balance:
  • How many people in the target audience (here loosely defined as "intellectually curious, mostly amateur college students") will have engaged with the material?
  • Are there different levels of this knowledge that can be tested to distinguish members of this target audience?
  • Can this knowledge be tested in a way that rewards in-depth understanding, while still satisfying the criteria of uniqueness without overt reliance on things like title-matching (i.e. core attributes of "good questions")
  • (As a corollary of the other three) How many pyramidal questions can be produced out of the material on a sustainable basis?
Literature easily passes all of these tests. History does too. A lot of subjects that are often maligned for being "non-academic" such as geography and mythology also pass them - tangentially, I think we do a disservice to people who aren't dedicated academics or quizbowlers by trimming them at a lot of tournaments, though it seems there's a bit more attention being given to geography these days.

My point here is that it's hard to defend cutting into a topic solely on the basis of its prominence in how many people "use" it or its prominence in the academy / workforce / whatever "real life" thing you're trying to bring up. Do a lot of methodology-related math topics pass all of these tests? I am not sure we've seen enough questions written to find out - but a lot of other topics related to "things people actually do" don't look so hot when put up against these tests. (I eagerly await countervailing proposals calling for more questions on marketing and ERP software). Given this, I suspect that it's best to be conservative as we introduce these topics into a canon that exists in large part because it's practical, and also to keep Ike's broader vision in mind while we write these questions.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by ArnavS » Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:33 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:19 pm
ArnavS wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:46 pm
Yeah, this is incidentally good reason to do what someone else suggested and take a hard look at the lit distribution.
What do we mean by "take a hard look at the lit distribution?" Perhaps the literature distribution could stand to have a bit more non-fiction than it currently does, but in general I think quizbowl in recent years has been doing a good job of bringing a lot of new topics into the literature distribution that were heavily under-represented (non-fiction / essays, memoirs, activist authors) or anathema to a lot of people (genre lit). The fact remains, though, that there's a lot of literature that people engage with and which, very importantly, can have knowledge easily tested in a quizbowl format which imposes such constraints as uniqueness, pyramidality, etc.
I can't speak for Rein, who used this phrase initially. But I used it to mean that we should consider reducing the amount of space devoted to literature.

Undoubtedly, I'm biased, as someone who is functionally illiterate in quizbowl terms. And your points about the suitability of literature to the quizbowl format are well-taken. But it nevertheless strikes me as odd that so much space is devoted to literature. I'd guess that it could be cut in half, and we'd still have a vibrant selection of literature questions.

Edit: Typo.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:56 pm

ArnavS wrote:But it nevertheless strikes me as odd that so much space is devoted to literature. I'd guess that it could be cut in half, and we'd still have a vibrant selection of literature questions.
Why exactly is it odd? Even beyond the constraints I've laid out above, lots of people read books or are familiar with literature from the impact it has on other parts of human culture. Literature is one of the most valuable conveyors of the human experience, it's a major inspiration for many other areas of human achievement, it's been around for thousands of years, and it's still produced in massive quantities today (albeit perhaps with declining relative importance compared to its role in the past). Is the devotion of this space odd because of literature's importance, or what?
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by theMoMA » Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:02 pm

The 20/20 distribution has been relatively consistent for decades. It's true that setting "literature," "history," and "science" exactly equal to each other in numerical importance, and each exactly 1.33 times more important than all of "arts" or 4 times more important than all of "social science," is a strange result flowing from an unclear historical process. But it's where the game is, and it's the result of a lot of discussion and some minor tinkering over time. At this point in the evolution of the distribution, it seems almost too obvious to be worth mentioning that, if it strikes one person "as odd that so much space is devoted to literature," that fact will have almost no bearing on whether literature retains its position as one of academic quizbowl's major categories. You're going to have to raise a much better argument than a "guess" that literature "could be cut in half, and we'd still have a vibrant selection of literature questions" to get any traction in today's distributional discussions.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by ArnavS » Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:08 pm

Well, Rein said it better than I could, so I'll just quote him:
I would suggest that the literature distribution taking up a full 4/4 is a significant constraint on the rest of the distribution, and that this weighting is not justified by the relative importance of the study of literature to, for example, the sum total of the other arts (3/3) or social science (1/1). The emphasis on literature in the current quizbowl distribution seems to be more of a historical accident, or perhaps a reflection of the relative ease of writing questions on literature, than it is a fair evaluation of the place of the study of literature in the academy. While my opening comment is mostly facetious, in that I certainly do not believe that we should discard literature because it is not "practical", I do believe that we should be taking a hard look at how much space is devoted to literature. I will also note my obvious bias here, in that I am good at math and not at literature.
Edit: To elaborate on my own thoughts, I think there's a valid case that literature (and literary criticism) form a distinct "humanity." This field has geographical subfields, of course (like CanLit, American literature, etc.), and genre divisions, just as (say) philosophy does (Continental philosophy, French thought; epistemology, phenomenology, etc.) I don't think there's a clear reason that literature dominates philosophy, or psychology, or anything else. Of course, that's not a reason to change the status quo (there's also no reason that philosophy dominates literature.) But there are valid arguments that math and the quantitative arts are starved for space, and literature seems like a natural place to cut back.

As for the observation that my offhand remark earlier doesn't pass muster as a formal case to change the distribution, that's certainly true. Although I'll submit that Andrew was correct when he said it was too obvious to repeat.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Cheynem » Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:25 pm

Why is literature the natural place to cut back?
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by ArnavS » Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:28 pm

Cheynem wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:25 pm
Why is literature the natural place to cut back?
So yeah, you could make similar arguments that history is also ripe for a haircut. I guess some of this comes from the way the academy is currently structured ("history" questions are accessible to people with majors like Asian Studies, straight History, International Relations, etc.; whereas literature will generally be concentrated in a major called "English" or "Great Works.")
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by csheep » Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:41 pm

Quiz bowl distribution isn't based on the distribution of college majors, nor should it be.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by The Billiards Fool » Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:47 pm

ArnavS wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:28 pm
Cheynem wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 6:25 pm
Why is literature the natural place to cut back?
So yeah, you could make similar arguments that history is also ripe for a haircut. I guess some of this comes from the way the academy is currently structured ("history" questions are accessible to people with majors like Asian Studies, straight History, International Relations, etc.; whereas literature will generally be concentrated in a major called "English" or "Great Works.")
This ignores that both of these are also accessible to people that can read and are intellectually curious (and have the added benefit of being more accessible to an average person and thus have an added benefit of playability). I still haven’t actually seen a particularly good argument for this “cut lit/history for math.” That history and literature have equally “valid” reasons doesn’t actually make a valid argument for why we’d do this in the first place (or why, if we wanted to increase math, we wouldn’t just increase its prevalence in the already established science distro). You don’t have to produce one now, and I don’t mean to make you do so, but the phrase “has a valid argument” was used multiple times to describe both “math being starved for space” and “lit/history being cut back” without a valid reason actually being described (except Rein’s argument which I don’t particularly agree with and also would need to see more fully formed to judge it)
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by ArnavS » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:01 pm

Sure, and I guess I should've anticipated what sort of minefield I waded into.

For starters, I think Will's earlier list of criteria (i.e., things to think about when sculpting the distribution) is a good starting point. Michael is correct that the structure of the academy shouldn't per se determine how we do quizbowl (although it is, of course, one factor.)

Here's what I can say at the moment. I think we need to show three things: (a) why there should be more math (or "mathy") content, (b) why that math can't fit inside the existing science distribution, and (c) which of lit or history or whatever else should make way for it.

For (a)- Succinctly, every science, and many social sciences, rest on some sort of quantitative foundation. These aren't just bolted on addenda; the measurement, calculation, theory, etc. is fundamental to the actual science. You can't do much economics without a firm grasp of probability and linear algebra and differential equations. Likewise, it's exceedingly difficult to do population biology without understanding the Lotka-Volterra (differential) equations.

But it's entirely possible to sit through a tournament where none of the biology or economics questions deal with the mathematical content of that kind. And insofar as this omits an interesting and vital part of these subjects, I'd warrant it's not great.

For (b), I would have to think more. There's definitely something to be said for people behaving "territorially" w.r.t. the science distribution. It wouldn't be unreasonable to, say, split the science distribution down the middle with regards to qualitative and quantitative content. My subjective feeling, though, is that since math is already underserved as it is, detracting from math-adjacent fields like chemistry and physics is not the best solution.

For (c), I have no good answer atm.

Edit: Formatting.
Last edited by ArnavS on Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:03 pm

I guess some of this comes from the way the academy is currently structured ("history" questions are accessible to people with majors like Asian Studies, straight History, International Relations, etc.; whereas literature will generally be concentrated in a major called "English" or "Great Works.")
I'm interested to learn about these geographic area studies majors that don't include some number of literature classes, because every single Latin American, Asian/Middle Eastern Studies, etc. department worth its salt almost certainly has one or more classes on the literature of those areas. If we're going to restrict ourselves to just purely "things you learn in the academy" you still also have:
  • Specialized classes on literature of particular countries, traditions, groups, etc.
  • Literature classes taken by language majors
  • Literature discussed in language classes
  • Frequent allusions to and discussion of works of literature as part of cultural history you encounter in history classes
  • Discussions of works of literature as they are adapted in films, paintings, etc.
  • Dissections of works of literature in classes on feminism, critical theory, etc.
  • Creative or other writing classes that force you to engage with literature
  • Essays, excerpts, books, etc. that are read in basic "Intro to X Culture" courses
So it seems like literature is cropping up in tons of academic fields, much as quantitative science is, and has the advantage of being something that a lot more people are engaging with on an extracurricular / non-job-related basis as well. It's an integral part of human culture and it's something that we are exposed to since children, despite the decline of reading in our society.

EDIT: We're missing something else here - applied math already shows up in good economics questions as well as good questions in many other subjects! If anything, I think intermediate level QB econ questions could probably use more math, as people are a lot more likely to do some basic computations from basic classes in macro, micro, finance, etc. than they are to know named effects and second/third-tier papers which you'd only learn by either studying for quizbowl or being a very deeply engaged economist / reader of these sorts of things. But this doesn't necessitate a whole new category - we have the economics category, and if we want more room for applied math that's both useful across many areas and accessible to players, then we can make some room for it in the science distribution we already have.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:18 pm

Based on how one chooses to weigh criteria like 'importance in the real world / workplace,' 'number of majors,' 'interest to intellectually curious people,' etc., one could come up with a good argument for a lot of distributions that look nothing like each other, some of which are obviously undesirable. (Many people work on HR software or packaging design or welding; nevertheless, nobody wants you to write a tournament full of questions about those things, unless you can do it as well as Mike Bentley.)

Constrained to 4/4 among the sciences, expanding math to 1/1 would crowd out a lot of 'other science' topics that might also be thought to get short shrift. I've no question that someone like Natan Holtzman could probably write several packets worth of fresh and interesting earth / atmospheric science questions, and engineers have lamented for a long time that the topics they learn in their majors are underrepresented. Allowing the sciences to expand beyond 4/4 would, of course, cut down on other important things that intellectually curious people also care about.

Tinkering with the distribution is fine, but probably best done at housewrites by someone who can articulate a positive vision of what this sort of 'quant' subdistribution could look like, and control the entire science distribution more tightly. That said, I would be less excited to play a tournament with 1/1 math. My concern is that the people pushing this change will just write more pure math rather than actually articulating the sort of broader / more relevant vision of a 'quant' distribution that people are talking about. Even if that's not necessarily true, announcing a 1/1 distribution creates the potential for that sort of imbalance to occur.

As Will's latest post suggests (and many others), I think it would be better to use the fuzziness inherent in the distribution to achieve your goals: For example, if you really think mathematical methods in the social sciences deserve more emphasis, write that into your social science questions. (A few social science questions at PIANO were quite math-heavy; I tried to emphasize some neglected areas of earth systems science in my biology question on "primary productivity.") This would allow you to emphasize the centrality of mathematical thinking to other disciplines without creating a situation where math is displacing those other disciplines.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Cheynem » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:21 pm

Just a note that like just like people can read a history book for fun, they can also like read a fiction book or go to a play for fun.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by theMoMA » Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:46 pm

I'm trying to think of what kind of argument could prevail on someone who was thinking of cutting one part of the standard 20/20 distribution in favor of bringing another category to more prominence.

A recent, somewhat successful argument was Matt Jackson's call to reduce and revamp the mythology distribution. I won't restate Matt's entire argument here, but it's worth reviewing his post to see how comprehensive an argument that proceeds largely from armchair speculation needs to be to be persuasive. (It's worth noting that I find Matt's argument persuasive and made a minor reorientation of the ACF Nationals distribution in 2018 that both reduced the number of mythology questions and tweaked the kinds of questions that appeared in that category.)

What I found persuasive about Matt's argument is the idea that, as of 2016, mythology had become a fiefdom in which remembering a relatively small number of various named wands and cauldrons could result in consistent points at all difficulty levels. It seemed fairly obvious to me that mythology simply had a much smaller canon space than most other 1/1 categories, and as a result, players could spend relatively little time mastering a category that was considered equivalent in importance, at least numerically, to every book ever written in America, or every achievement in the history of physics or chemistry. That seemed obviously out of whack, even though Matt hadn't presented any hard evidence to support his conclusions.

When the cross-category disequilibrium is not so clear, I think it becomes more important to support calls for reform with hard evidence. Relevant to this discussion is the fact that science tends to be pretty hard to convert relative to other categories. For instance, see this breakdown by category of conversion at the 2014 Chicago Open, which I edited, with "other science" at the very bottom in terms of bonus conversion. I admit that this is a single tournament, and the science at the event could have been hard for myriad reasons other than that it's inherently more difficult for players to convert. (See Ike's post for a discussion of a variety of factors.) But consider that science, especially theoretical math, is a category that people without a certain level of training aren't usually going to (in fact, mostly can't) learn about from ambient reading, unlike essentially everything else in quizbowl.

If your argument is that there is a large body of latent knowledge about math that is going untested, when in fact quizbowlers have a hard time answering math questions as it is, that would present a major obstacle to accepting your premises. Of course, you could get around the objection in several ways; perhaps the difference in conversion is not as it would appear from this single data point, or perhaps people would learn more math under different distributional incentives, etc. But these are things that proponents of distributional change have to contend with in one way or another if they're going to win the argument.

It may be the case that math should be coming up more often in social science and various other science categories--in fact, you might enjoy 2018 ACF Nationals for taking that very approach to the "hard" (as opposed to "soft," not as a signifier of difficulty) social science that came in as mythology went down--but I think this is a fundamentally different argument. In general, and speaking only for myself, I'm more sympathetic to the argument that questions in a particular category aren't being written as well as they should be than the argument that there should be more of someone's favored category and less of a disfavored one.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by ArnavS » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:28 pm

Without responding in depth, just wanted to say that I found the last couple posts very reasonable and educational.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Cody » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:48 am

I think people are overlooking just how much you can do with the current distribution without even getting to 1/1 math. 0.5/0.5 math is completely acceptable in the standard distribution and I have done it multiple times because I think math is important (specifically, math used in applied contexts, which was underrepresented). 0.5/0.5 is 7/7 math over 15 packets, and that's a lot of space to explore.

If you want to get adventurous, you can even cut chemistry by 1/3 and increase other science to compensate (which I have also done) and/or get math to 0.66/0.66 - 10/10 in a 15 packet set.

There's plenty of space to explore a reconception of the math distribution without a radical change to the distribution. (And I strongly believe that such a step -- including good execution -- is necessary to make a strong argument for an expansion of math, as I am in agreement with Shan.)
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by LeoLaw » Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:22 pm

I think cutting other categories to add 1/1 Math is an overreaction to this last ACF Nationals. I am not very good at most categories at the ACF Nationals level, usually when I play tournaments at that level I look forward to the Math questions. While I understand the editors' vision of blurting the boundary of the "other science" category, I was quite unhappy with the lack of math questions specially when compared to past ACF Nationals. I think what most people like me just don't want to sign up to play a tournament expecting it to have the usual amount Math questions and only getting like 5 questions out of all 14 rounds. It doesn't have to be 1/1 Math, 0.5/0.5 is more than sufficient as Cody said.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Ike » Wed May 01, 2019 11:41 am

LeoLaw wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:22 pm
I think cutting other categories to add 1/1 Math is an overreaction to this last ACF Nationals. I am not very good at most categories at the ACF Nationals level, usually when I play tournaments at that level I look forward to the Math questions. While I understand the editors' vision of blurting the boundary of the "other science" category, I was quite unhappy with the lack of math questions specially when compared to past ACF Nationals. I think what most people like me just don't want to sign up to play a tournament expecting it to have the usual amount Math questions and only getting like 5 questions out of all 14 rounds. It doesn't have to be 1/1 Math, 0.5/0.5 is more than sufficient as Cody said.
Just to bring this up here again, as I mentioned in the Nats thread, Nats over the course of its 20 something rounds had 6/5 math To me, that's in line with what should be acceptable. The issue is that 3 of those tossups appeared in tiebreaking packets, and 1 appeared in finals 2. I was not informed about 2 of those tiebreaking packets until after until I had signed off on my work -- so there was no conscious editorial decision to push math to such a low level. Obviously I would have moved those 2 tossups out of the tiebreakers if I had known.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by LeoLaw » Thu May 02, 2019 2:00 am

Ike wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 11:41 am
LeoLaw wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:22 pm
I think cutting other categories to add 1/1 Math is an overreaction to this last ACF Nationals. I am not very good at most categories at the ACF Nationals level, usually when I play tournaments at that level I look forward to the Math questions. While I understand the editors' vision of blurting the boundary of the "other science" category, I was quite unhappy with the lack of math questions specially when compared to past ACF Nationals. I think what most people like me just don't want to sign up to play a tournament expecting it to have the usual amount Math questions and only getting like 5 questions out of all 14 rounds. It doesn't have to be 1/1 Math, 0.5/0.5 is more than sufficient as Cody said.
Just to bring this up here again, as I mentioned in the Nats thread, Nats over the course of its 20 something rounds had 6/5 math To me, that's in line with what should be acceptable. The issue is that 3 of those tossups appeared in tiebreaking packets, and 1 appeared in finals 2. I was not informed about 2 of those tiebreaking packets until after until I had signed off on my work -- so there was no conscious editorial decision to push math to such a low level. Obviously I would have moved those 2 tossups out of the tiebreakers if I had known.
Thx for the clarification. I agree that 6/5 math is good for 20 packets if it is distributed well among them.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by frasier » Thu May 02, 2019 2:17 pm

For the Oxford Open this year we reduced the chem distribution to 11/13 and used that to ask more other sci, which in practice meant around 1/1 maths.* It was fairly easy to do this we thought, and I don't think the results seem all that odd. I think the claims that 1/1 maths *can't* be done are just wrong to be honest, I think the debate is just more about whether maths should take up that much of the distro (or near that amount at least).

The problem with the arguments above about maths being asked about in other areas of the science and social science distribution is that just isn't the case in pretty much any tournament I've played, especially when it comes to the social science side of things. Statistical methods and mathematical analysis are very important and useful tools in economics and other areas of social science, but only get asked about relatively occasionally, at about the same frequency as things which virtually no one uses or studies like earth science or space geography. That seems rather bizarre to me. I'd personally love to see housewrites start by writing more maths in the other science, and think about playing around with the other parts of the science distribution, as others have advocated for on this thread.

*We also cut myth entirely and replaced it with thought and to be honest I'm extremely happy with how it turned out, but that's just me.
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Muriel Axon » Thu May 02, 2019 2:20 pm

frasier wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:17 pm
things which virtually no one uses or studies like earth science
wait, what?
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Cody » Thu May 02, 2019 2:27 pm

Muriel Axon wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:20 pm
frasier wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:17 pm
things which virtually no one uses or studies like earth science
wait, what?
no one studies or uses the most important, pressing, and relevant scientific topics of our time, more at 11 on hsquizbowl.org
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by Fuddle Duddle » Thu May 02, 2019 2:28 pm

frasier wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:17 pm
We also cut myth entirely and replaced it with thought
Muriel Axon wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:20 pm
wait, what?
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Re: Why don't we have 1/1 math?

Post by frasier » Thu May 02, 2019 2:47 pm

Cody wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:27 pm
Muriel Axon wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:20 pm
frasier wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 2:17 pm
things which virtually no one uses or studies like earth science
wait, what?
no one studies or uses the most important, pressing, and relevant scientific topics of our time, more at 11 on hsquizbowl.org
Fair, that comment (especially with respect to "use") was more reserved for space geo than earth science. It is true that far, far more people study subjects that use mathematics than study geology and even geography though.
wait, what?
It's not for everyone, but I don't see the issue with playing around with the distro like this. I find it very weird that 1/1 myth (or "legends", as people now call it, as if this actually changes anything) is basically enshrined into the distribution at almost every tournament.
Last edited by frasier on Thu May 02, 2019 3:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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