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7th February 2012, 08:46 AM  #1961 
diyAudio Member

It's not really that complicated.
You can do math and never care about physics or engineering (that's what most theoretical mathematicians do, to be honest  others have to look up the practical implications of their findings because they don't really care). Good luck doing Physics or Engineering work ignoring math.
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"You have a hierarchy: a mathematician, a physicist (which is a failed mathematician), and an engineer (which is a failed physicist)."  Andrew Jones 
7th February 2012, 08:47 AM  #1962  
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Belgrade, Serbia

Quote:
It's just that I feel mathematicians are more bent towards the pure idea, and the engineers are the lucky guys who get to turn the idea into reality. It's a symbiotic relatinship, I think, both are equally needed. I don't think either is more important, I think they are equal. I am strongly reminded of a text I read in a Swiss engineering magazine, Technische Rundchau, way back in 1969  the difference between theory and practice: Theory is when everybody knows how it should work, but it doesn't; Practice is when nobody has the slightest idea how, but it works beautifully. Just my 2 cents' worth. 

7th February 2012, 09:27 AM  #1963 
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Md

"Theory is when everybody knows how it should work, but it doesn't;
Practice is when nobody has the slightest idea how, but it works beautifully." Love it! 
7th February 2012, 09:47 AM  #1964 
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Hangzhou  Marco Polo's 'most beautiful city'. 700yrs is a long time though...
Blog Entries: 121

Interesting that TheShaman calls them 'theoretical' whereas to the rest of us and to themselves they're known as 'pure mathematicians' I very much doubt whether a pure mathematician would consider an applied mathematician to be cut from the same cloth at all.
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When irony first makes itself known in a young man's life, it can be like his first experience of getting drunk  Robertson Davies 
7th February 2012, 09:55 AM  #1965  
Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
Join Date: Nov 2002

Hi,
Quote:
"Practice without Theory is blind, Theory without practice is sterile" Most writers emphasise rightly that the division between theory in practice is a false one, the should inform the other, best in personalunion, that is the Theorist should be an accomplished practician, the practician an accomplished theorist. Then we will have synthesis, such as has been present with many who in earlier times worked out and derived the theories that still underpin much of what we do. One might even places the debate here about measurements and sound quality in the context of "Theory vs. Practice". The accomplished practician tell the accomplished theorist: "Your theories are sadly lacking, your measurements are meaningless.", meanwhile the accomplished theorist tells the accomplished practician "You have no theory, you do not know what you are doing.". The practician rejects theories that fail to work in practice, the theoretician rejects any practical experience or empirical results that do not fit his theory. Either side holds part of the whole; yet they prefer shouting abuse at each other across the nomans land between the deeply dug trenches to actually putting together the part each holds. If they did they could at least see if the combination gives a better idea about the shape and nature of the puzzle (to find a complete solution may be too much too hope), and each will walk away knowing more of the whole picture, so they better know where to investigate next. Yet such a cooperative approach to any human endeavour including audio seem a dream not to be realised any earlier than the magnum opus of the alchymists. Ciao T 

7th February 2012, 09:59 AM  #1966  
diyAudio Member

Quote:
And indeed there are mathematicians who would consider an applied mathematician having just a "good overview" of mathematics or oversimplifying it or not having enough "background" knowledge. Then again applied mathematicians make fun of some of their colleagues who took the easy way out and dealt with the mathematics of economics or something. I guess it's human. Regarding pure/theoretical mathematicians, most of them are gurus in some specific field (e.g. number theory) but detached from reality (i.e. theoretical)  and a bit crazy. It should be noted that the most talented ones have a good grasp of many fields of math as well as the practical implications of their work. Anyway, we work together (basically we need them). So it's essential to put our differences aside, mock the physicists or engineers (who need us to understand their work or how to make something that will actually work, respectively) and make friends.
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"You have a hierarchy: a mathematician, a physicist (which is a failed mathematician), and an engineer (which is a failed physicist)."  Andrew Jones Last edited by TheShaman; 7th February 2012 at 10:18 AM. 

7th February 2012, 10:14 AM  #1967  
Previously: Kuei Yang Wang
Join Date: Nov 2002

Hi,
Quote:
"Theory with practice is empty speculation. Theory must be tested against practice. Theory provides terminology and methodologies for ananlysing practice, but does not guarantee good practice" Ciao T 

7th February 2012, 11:48 AM  #1968 
diyAudio Member
Join Date: May 2007

I have met mathematicians who aren't safe near sharp objects, but I have also come across engineers who could not be let loose in the vicinity of an equation. Physicists, of course, combine the best features of both: they can invent new mathematics (e.g. Dirac, Heaviside) which the mathematicians then struggle to formalise, and they can develop products using counterintuitive science which doesn't fit the naive mechanistic models and approximations which engineers are often taught. Of course, I could be biased!
A big problem is that people who are expert in one field may have difficulty grasping just how profound is their ignorance in other areas. 
7th February 2012, 01:24 PM  #1969 
Sin Bin
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Front Row Center

Keep the theorist ..... I will take the practitioner with the 24 outputs and big PSU........

7th February 2012, 04:00 PM  #1970 
diyAudio Member

When people talk about the need for formal education to do engineering, I usually say that it's almost essential for learning mathematics  maths are hard to "dig out" on your own, even with some very good texts.
I worked with a tech at UCLA years ago who was quite energetic and bright, but had crippling math difficulties and anxieties, compounded by confusions arising from the syntax of computer programming languages that he wrongly mapped onto basic algebra (really awful misdirection!). He wanted to do, and did somehow manage to do, astronomical research instrumentation, but it was a guessandbygosh affair. He also managed to wear out the switches on the beloved shop Tek 475 in short order, having to deploy every thisdelayedbythatintensifiedbythe other feature constantly, when a simple trigger setup would have been quite adequate in 99% of the cases. I was horrified. A good example of his handicap came when I explained how a fixedpattern associated with dark current and other vagaries of the photodiode detector had to be subtracted from data before a division could be performed to correct for responsivity. He just could not get this, as to how a simple quotient of one data block with a flat field data block wouldn't give the right answer, this latter having been appropriate to the detector system he'd worked with at Lick Observatory as a night assistant. Again. IMO the more maths the better, but beware of becoming obsessed. Last edited by bcarso; 7th February 2012 at 04:01 PM. Reason: error 
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