Arithmetic, Then and Now

“Our youth, proficients in a noble art

Divide a farthing to the hundredth part.

Well done, my boy, the joyful father cries,

Addition and Subtraction make us wise.”–Oliver Oldschool, 1801*

“The different branches of Arithmetic — Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision. “–Alice in Wonderland

“Can you do addition?” the White Queen asked. “What’s one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?” “I don’t know,” said Alice. “I lost count.”–Through the Looking Glass

“In an increasingly complex world full of senseless coincidence, what’s required in many situations is not more facts – we’re inundated already – but a better command of known facts, and for this a course in probability is invaluable” – John Allen Paulos, Innumeracy, 1988

‘This guy is amazing. It is awesome how much he has done with very little in the way of resources.”–Bill Gates on the Khan Academy

*Pen name of journalist Joseph Dennie who attended Harvard in the late 1780s, at a time when several Harvard students complained about the practice of appointing mathematics tutors who were better classicists than mathematicians. Quoted in Patricia Cline Cohen, A Calculating People, 1982.

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