Mathematics Is Underrated

December 24, 2012 3:58 pm

“PageRank or PR(A) can be calculated using a simple iterative algorithm, and corresponds to the principal eigenvector of the normalized link matrix of the web.” Source: The Anatomy of A Search Engine, the original pagerank research paper.

As I started googling for ‘principal eigenvector’, I realized something: Mathematics as a skill is heavily underrated. For some reason, we have not given Mathematics the kind of importance we chose to give to Rails or Objective-C, for example. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but given the explosion of data in the last few years, Mathematics would be a very critical skill in the next decade and beyond. Solving Google-scale problems would need deep mathematical abilities. That, and the ability to leverage advances in computing.

Here is the bad news: it is definitely not a skill you can gain in a hurry. When we are done building all the photo sharing apps with all the millions in VC money, we will wake up one day to realize that the only person who actually solved important problems in the last decade was Stephen Wolfram.

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