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!

A fórmula de Arthur Benjamin para cambiar o ensino das matemáticas

Filmed:
2,602,929 views

Sempre alguén lle pregunta ao profesor de matemáticas, "¿Usarei o cálculo algunha vez na miña vida?" E para a maioría de nós, tal como o propón Arthur Benjamin, a resposta é non. El ofrece unha proposta audaz para facer do ensino das matemáticas algo relevante nesta era dixital.
- 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 (or triple-click) the English transcript below to play the video.

00:12
Now, if President Obama
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Agora, se o Presidente Obama
00:15
invited me to be the next Czar of Mathematics,
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invítame a ser o próximo Zar das Matemáticas
00:19
then I would have a suggestion for him
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faríalle unha proposta
00:22
that I think would vastly improve
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que melloraría bastante
00:24
the mathematics education in this country.
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o ensino das matemáticas neste país.
00:27
And it would be easy to implement
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E sería bastante fácil de implantar
00:29
and inexpensive.
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e nada custosa.
00:31
The mathematics curriculum that we have
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O currículo de matemáticas que temos
00:33
is based on a foundation of arithmetic and algebra.
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baséase fundamentalmente na aritmética e o álxebra.
00:37
And everything we learn after that
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E todo o que aprendemos a partir de entón
00:39
is building up towards one subject.
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é formarnos cara a un concepto.
00:42
And at top of that pyramid, it's calculus.
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E na punta da pirámide atópase o cálculo.
00:46
And I'm here to say
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E aquí estou para dicir
00:48
that I think that that is the wrong summit of the pyramid ...
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que eu penso que non é a cima correcta da pirámide...
00:52
that the correct summit -- that all of our students,
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que a cima correcta - que todos os nosos estudantes,
00:54
every high school graduate should know --
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todo graduado do instituto debería saber -
00:56
should be statistics:
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son as estatísticas:
00:59
probability and statistics.
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probabilidade e estatísticas.
01:01
(Applause)
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(Aplausos)
01:03
I mean, don't get me wrong. Calculus is an important subject.
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Dígoo en serio, non me interpreten mal. O cálculo é unha materia importante.
01:07
It's one of the great products of the human mind.
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É un dos grandes produtos da mente humana.
01:09
The laws of nature are written in the language of calculus.
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As leis da natureza están escritas na linguaxe do cálculo.
01:13
And every student who studies math, science, engineering, economics,
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E todo estudante que estuda matemáticas, ciencias, enxeñería, economía,
01:17
they should definitely learn calculus
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definitivamente deberían aprender cálculo
01:19
by the end of their freshman year of college.
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ao final do seu primeiro ano como universitarios.
01:21
But I'm here to say, as a professor of mathematics,
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Pero estou aquí para dicir, como profesor de matemáticas,
01:24
that very few people actually use calculus
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que moi pouca xente usa o cálculo
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in a conscious, meaningful way, in their day-to-day lives.
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de xeito consciente e relevante na súa vida diaria.
01:31
On the other hand,
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Doutra banda,
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statistics -- that's a subject that you could,
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as estatísticas, é unha materia que podes,
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and should, use on daily basis. Right?
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e deberías usar no día a día. ¿Certo?
01:39
It's risk. It's reward. It's randomness.
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É risco. É recompensa. É casualidade.
01:42
It's understanding data.
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É entender os datos.
01:44
I think if our students, if our high school students --
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Penso que si os nosos estudantes, si os nosos estudantes do instituto -
01:46
if all of the American citizens --
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si todos os cidadáns americanos -
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knew about probability and statistics,
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soubesen sobre probabilidade e estatísticas,
01:51
we wouldn't be in the economic mess that we're in today. (Laughter) (Applause)
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non estariamos no desastre económico que actualmente vivimos.
01:54
Not only -- thank you -- not only that ...
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Non só -grazas- non só que
01:57
but if it's taught properly, it can be a lot of fun.
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si é pensando razoablemente, pode ser tremendamente entretido.
02:00
I mean, probability and statistics,
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Refírome a que, probabilidade e estatísticas,
02:02
it's the mathematics of games and gambling.
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son as matemáticas dos xogos e as apostas.
02:06
It's analyzing trends. It's predicting the future.
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É analizar tendencias. É predicir o futuro.
02:10
Look, the world has changed
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Miren, o mundo cambiou,
02:12
from analog to digital.
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de analóxico a dixital.
02:15
And it's time for our mathematics curriculum to change
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E é hora de que o noso currículo de matemáticas cambie
02:18
from analog to digital,
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de analóxico a dixital.
02:20
from the more classical, continuous mathematics,
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Da máis clásica, matemática continua
02:24
to the more modern, discrete mathematics --
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a unha máis moderna, matemática discreta.
02:27
the mathematics of uncertainty,
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A matemática da incerteza,
02:29
of randomness, of data --
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do azar de datos,
02:31
that being probability and statistics.
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e iso é probabilidade e estatísticas.
02:34
In summary, instead of our students
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En resumo, no canto de que os nosos estudantes
02:36
learning about the techniques of calculus,
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aprendan acerca das técnicas do cálculo,
02:39
I think it would be far more significant
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penso que sería moito máis relevante
02:42
if all of them knew what two standard deviations
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si todos eles soubesen que significan dúas desviacións
02:45
from the mean means. And I mean it.
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estándares da media. E dígoo en serio
02:48
Thank you very much.
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Moitas grazas.
02:50
(Applause)
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(Aplausos)

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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