My Last Number Theory Class

I cannot believe that yesterday was my last Number Theory class. It wasn’t technically since I have my last exam before the final this coming Tuesday, but it was the last “class” class. It does not feel like that class is, or should be over. It feels like there’s so much more I’m supposed to learn. My professor was awesome even though my exam grades haven’t been the best.

No matter what I get on my next exam and final for this course, I can say I’ve learned a lot, most importantly that number theory is my favorite kind of math. It’s pure math, for those of you aren’t familiar there are two types of math, pure and applied. Things like calculus and probability are applied math, full of obvious applications to the real world. Pure math is when you stop caring about whether or not it has applications, in many cases it does, but it might not be immediately apparent.

One of the best things about number theory is that we only have to deal with integers. There’s no approximation because it’s all exact. FYI: I can’t stand approximation (or decimals for that matter). I think it bugs me because even though an approximate answer is considered an answer, I still feel that it’s incomplete.

Another awesome thing I love about number theory is the amount of unproved conjectures and areas of research I could go into. I feel like I actually have a fighting chance of doing something in this field if I can find a pure math master’s program with a good amount of number theory in it. There are even a few conjectures mentioned in class that I plan on playing with this summer just for the fun of it. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how hard and intense number theory is but I don’t really understand why, unless it’s because you need to understand the proofs to understand whats going on.. but I feel that that’s true of all math.

If you’re still reading and have not understood a thing I was talking about, I applaud you! Now I offer you a few of the fun facts my professor told us throughout the semester!

– That paper thing they slip over your coffee or tea at Dunkin or Starbucks is called a zarf

– Wilson didn’t prove “Wilson’s Theorem” or even come up with it. It was first conjectured by Leibniz, when Wilson conjectured it later independently, his teacher stole it and published it. It was finally proved by LaGrange. But Wilson gets the credit.

-Fermat’s Last Theorem wasn’t the only theorem he didn’t write out because he didn’t have enough room on the paper before he went and died. The same is true of Fermat’s Little Theorem. It was finally proved by Euler.

-The numbers (6 x 6 x 6), 666 – (6 x6) and 666 make up the sides of a right triangle. The area of this triangle is 666,666.

-The Law of Quadratic Reciprocity was first proved by Gauss at the age of 18 in 1796. He did six more proofs of it through out his life. As of 2000 there are 192 proofs of it.

-Euler had a thing for coming along and proving unproved conjectures

-Gauss was a genius, and was quoted “Mathematics is the queen of the sciences and number theory is the queen of mathematics.”

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1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Scott Pool said,

    I’m glad you had fun in the class! …and wtf type of name is a ZARF


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