ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Arthur Benjamin - Mathemagician
Using daring displays of algorithmic trickery, lightning calculator and number wizard Arthur Benjamin mesmerizes audiences with mathematical mystery and beauty.

Why you should listen

Arthur Benjamin makes numbers dance. In his day job, he's a professor of math at Harvey Mudd College; in his other day job, he's a "Mathemagician," taking the stage in his tuxedo to perform high-speed mental calculations, memorizations and other astounding math stunts. It's part of his drive to teach math and mental agility in interesting ways, following in the footsteps of such heroes as Martin Gardner.

Benjamin is the co-author, with Michael Shermer, of Secrets of Mental Math (which shares his secrets for rapid mental calculation), as well as the co-author of the MAA award-winning Proofs That Really Count: The Art of Combinatorial Proof. For a glimpse of his broad approach to math, see the list of research talks on his website, which seesaws between high-level math (such as his "Vandermonde's Determinant and Fibonacci SAWs," presented at MIT in 2004) and engaging math talks for the rest of us ("An Amazing Mathematical Card Trick").

More profile about the speaker
Arthur Benjamin | Speaker | TED.com
TED2009

Arthur Benjamin: Teach statistics before calculus!

La formule d'Arthur Benjamin pour changer l'enseignement des mathématiques

Filmed:
2,523,768 views

Il y a toujours quelqu'un pour demander au professeur de maths, "Est-ce que je vais utiliser le calcul dans la vraie vie ? Et pour la plupart d'entre nous, dit Arthur Benjamin,la réponse est non. Il fait une proposition audacieuse sur la manière de rendre l'enseignement des mathématiques pertinent à l'ère du numérique.
- Mathemagician
Using daring displays of algorithmic trickery, lightning calculator and number wizard Arthur Benjamin mesmerizes audiences with mathematical mystery and beauty. Full bio

Double-click the English transcript below to play the video.

00:12
Now, if President Obama
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SI le président Obama
00:15
invited me to be the next Czar of Mathematics,
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m'invitait à être le prochain tsar des Mathématiques,
00:19
then I would have a suggestion for him
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j'aurais une suggestion à lui faire
00:22
that I think would vastly improve
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qui je pense améliorerait grandement
00:24
the mathematics education in this country.
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l'enseignement des mathématiques dans ce pays.
00:27
And it would be easy to implement
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Et ce serait facile à implémenter
00:29
and inexpensive.
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et ça ne coûterait pas cher.
00:31
The mathematics curriculum that we have
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Le programme de mathématiques que nous avons
00:33
is based on a foundation of arithmetic and algebra.
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est fondé sur l'arithmétique et l'algèbre.
00:37
And everything we learn after that
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Et tout ce que nous apprenons par la suite
00:39
is building up towards one subject.
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tend vers un unique sujet.
00:42
And at top of that pyramid, it's calculus.
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Et au sommet de la pyramide, il y a le calcul.
00:46
And I'm here to say
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Et je suis ici pour dire
00:48
that I think that that is the wrong summit of the pyramid ...
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que je pense que ce n'est pas le bon sommet de la pyramide ...
00:52
that the correct summit -- that all of our students,
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que le bon sommet .. que tous nos étudiants,
00:54
every high school graduate should know --
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tout bachelier devrait connaître,
00:56
should be statistics:
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devrait être les statistiques :
00:59
probability and statistics.
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la probabilité et les statistiques.
01:01
(Applause)
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(Applaudissements)
01:03
I mean, don't get me wrong. Calculus is an important subject.
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Je veux dire, comprenez moi bien. Le calcul est un sujet important.
01:07
It's one of the great products of the human mind.
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C'est l'un des plus grands produits de l'esprit humain.
01:09
The laws of nature are written in the language of calculus.
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Les lois de la nature sont écrites dans le langage du calcul.
01:13
And every student who studies math, science, engineering, economics,
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Et tous les étudiants qui étudient les maths, les sciences, l'ingénierie, l'économie,
01:17
they should definitely learn calculus
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devraient absolument apprendre le calcul
01:19
by the end of their freshman year of college.
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avant la fin de leur première année de fac.
01:21
But I'm here to say, as a professor of mathematics,
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Mais je suis ici pour dire, en tant que professeur de mathématiques,
01:24
that very few people actually use calculus
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que très peu de gens se servent en fait du calcul
01:28
in a conscious, meaningful way, in their day-to-day lives.
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d'une manière consciente et significative, dans leurs vies quotidiennes.
01:31
On the other hand,
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Par ailleurs,
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statistics -- that's a subject that you could,
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les statistiques, c'est un sujet que vous pourriez,
01:36
and should, use on daily basis. Right?
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et devriez, utiliser au quotidien. N'est-ce-pas?
01:39
It's risk. It's reward. It's randomness.
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C'est le risque, c'est la récompense, c'est l'aléatoire.
01:42
It's understanding data.
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C'est comprendre les données.
01:44
I think if our students, if our high school students --
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Je pense que si nos étudiants, si nos lycéens,
01:46
if all of the American citizens --
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si tous les citoyens américains,
01:48
knew about probability and statistics,
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connaissaient les probabilités et les statistiques,
01:51
we wouldn't be in the economic mess that we're in today. (Laughter) (Applause)
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nous ne serions pas dans le marasme économique dans lequel nous sommes aujourd'hui. (Rires) (Applaudissements)
01:54
Not only -- thank you -- not only that ...
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Non seulement, merci, non seulement ça,
01:57
but if it's taught properly, it can be a lot of fun.
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mais si on l'enseigne comme il faut, ça peut être très amusant.
02:00
I mean, probability and statistics,
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Je veux dire, les probabilités et les statistiques,
02:02
it's the mathematics of games and gambling.
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ce sont les mathématiques des jeux et des paris.
02:06
It's analyzing trends. It's predicting the future.
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C'est l'analyse des tendances, c'est prédire l'avenir.
02:10
Look, the world has changed
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Voyez, le monde est passé
02:12
from analog to digital.
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de l'analogique au numérique.
02:15
And it's time for our mathematics curriculum to change
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Et il est temps pour notre programme de mathématiques de passer
02:18
from analog to digital,
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de l'analogique au numérique,
02:20
from the more classical, continuous mathematics,
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des mathématiques les plus classiques et continues
02:24
to the more modern, discrete mathematics --
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aux mathématiques plus modernes et plus discrètes,
02:27
the mathematics of uncertainty,
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les mathématiques de l'incertitude,
02:29
of randomness, of data --
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de l'aléatoire, des données,
02:31
that being probability and statistics.
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que sont les probabilités et les statistiques.
02:34
In summary, instead of our students
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En résumé, au lieu que nos étudiants
02:36
learning about the techniques of calculus,
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apprennent les techniques de calcul,
02:39
I think it would be far more significant
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je pense que ça aurait beaucoup plus de sens
02:42
if all of them knew what two standard deviations
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s' ils savaient tous ce que deux écarts-types
02:45
from the mean means. And I mean it.
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de la médiane signifie. Et je le pense vraiment.
02:48
Thank you very much.
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Merci beaucoup.
02:50
(Applause)
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(Applaudissements)
Translated by Elisabeth Buffard
Reviewed by Florence Divet

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ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Arthur Benjamin - Mathemagician
Using daring displays of algorithmic trickery, lightning calculator and number wizard Arthur Benjamin mesmerizes audiences with mathematical mystery and beauty.

Why you should listen

Arthur Benjamin makes numbers dance. In his day job, he's a professor of math at Harvey Mudd College; in his other day job, he's a "Mathemagician," taking the stage in his tuxedo to perform high-speed mental calculations, memorizations and other astounding math stunts. It's part of his drive to teach math and mental agility in interesting ways, following in the footsteps of such heroes as Martin Gardner.

Benjamin is the co-author, with Michael Shermer, of Secrets of Mental Math (which shares his secrets for rapid mental calculation), as well as the co-author of the MAA award-winning Proofs That Really Count: The Art of Combinatorial Proof. For a glimpse of his broad approach to math, see the list of research talks on his website, which seesaws between high-level math (such as his "Vandermonde's Determinant and Fibonacci SAWs," presented at MIT in 2004) and engaging math talks for the rest of us ("An Amazing Mathematical Card Trick").

More profile about the speaker
Arthur Benjamin | Speaker | TED.com