I made this question some days ago, I realized it was poorly written and then I edited it - at the time, I thought it was because I failed to define "result", now I think I added a better definiton for "result" but I still received no feedback (the question is still closed).

The question is kinda important to me because whenever I try to speak about the importance of mathematics to acquainted ones, I usually receive a "math is easy, just input what you want in the calculator" argument. Which I feel that is completely flawed but I kinda fail to suggest precise examples where a calculator wouldn't be a tool.

So, can I ask in the meta about what it needs to be fixed? If the answer is yes, can you suggest me something?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I am not sure the scope can be reasonably controlled. Computers creating or doing new research is rare enough to make news when it's done, and computers doing proofs in general normally require a team and amount to a project (it is not something any individual math enthusiast can do on a whim), and (except for specialized software) calculators cannot do computations in a very large array of subjects at the graduate-level (at least without human-authored ad hoc programming) - pick your favorite subject and start listing a bajillion things off! $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Mar 26, 2013 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ I think if you directly ask the problem that motivates you, namely, "How can I convince others that math is not just about putting numbers into a calculator?", that would be a much better question. $\endgroup$
    – user856
    Mar 26, 2013 at 6:15
  • $\begingroup$ @RahulNarain It is a good suggestion, I could also merge both questions. $\endgroup$
    – Red Banana
    Mar 26, 2013 at 6:18

1 Answer 1


As it stands, it is almost impossible to answer your question, as it is much too broad. A start on it is Knuth's "Selected papers on computer science", also check out the development of numerical analysis, of computer algebra and such.

And @RahulNarain's comment is right on the money. Streamline your question, perhaps break it up into separate questions about specific areas you believe could make a good argument. Think of use of computers in mathematics (four color theorem, Petkovsek et al "A = B" is another fine example), consider mathemathics as embodied in computer use (relational databases come to mind), mathematics to model the way computers work (queueing models to analize and design networking protocols perhaps).

  • $\begingroup$ (I fear this answer will be flagged as off-topic here...) $\endgroup$
    – vonbrand
    Mar 27, 2013 at 11:13

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