The power of simple

When step back to the entire student life over the 20 years, I can say that the most magic course I’ve taken is no doubt to be mathematics.Everybody learns mathematics for at least 12years, from primary to senior high, the only difference is someone enjoys, someone suffers.


I’ve been the latter for sure. No mathematics intelligence is inherited from my parents though they are both talented in dealing with mathematics. Father studies physics, which is based on mathematics training. Mother studies engineering, fundamental mathematics is in great need of which.

However, after graduation from primary school, I fell in a strange math-phobia. Troubles kept showing up to ridicule my clumsiness and brainless effort. I tried so many ways to get it better but failed thereafter.

Mathematic is COMPLEX. I said to myself during every-night-fight with maths.


I can’t remember how I survived before I finally met physics. Physics is  the last straw. I was totally defeated by this charming sister of mathematics. I envy my peers who can easily deal with these twin sisters, after all, I can’t.


So I can’t understand why I’ve choose finance and finance engineering as major of college. My mathematics teacher in high school told me economics is mathematics. How could I just forget that….


Regret? No, absolutely not. Actually I felt so fortunate to have made this decision. Otherwise, I might have missed a lot of great experiences now.

Change happened in my college year..

To tell the significance of changes, let’s extract a piece of my memory: On Tuesday I attended my class of derivatives,  professor tried to tell us a phenomenon that the distances in premium of call option with different strike price is shorter than the distance  in the strike prices. He tried to tell us verbally in the first 15 minutes, but failed. Verbally is institutionally indeed, but not convincing.

He would have no alternative to turn to mathematics, I guessed. Why not use function convexity to illustrate that? Quite simple, right? You might say the function is not continuous, but so what? Try convex set, you’ll get the conclusion.

Just as expected, he went the the whiteboard and drew  a plot, and started to explain in Mathematics way. Only 5 minutes, things got clear.

See? Mathematics is SIMPLE.

The existent of mathematics is aimed at making the world more simple and clarified, especially applied mathematics. Statistics, algorithm, operational research….everything is meant to MAKE IT SIMPLER.

Take operational research and linear programming as another example. Everybody who ever enrolled in this course learnt about queue theory and simplex method. Simplify the business decision: manufacturer management, price setting,selling plans…and other complex real business problems into relatively simple mathematics model, and solve them using random variables or basic constraints, and then find possible optimal solution.

Got it? Mathematic is used to deduct the complexity of real world problems.

We have to admit that mathematics itself may be hard to learn. Many many art students are going crazy with calculus or probabilities. Many many engineering students are busy with graph theory and combination. Many many science students are fighting against analysis, differential equations, number theory….

But the NATURE of mathematics is simple. Complexity inside mathematics is served to accompany the simpleness with convince.Look at Taylor expansion, many of us feel uncomfortable to memorize the equation, but when applied into practice, and by ignoring high order terms, Taylor expansion does contribute to dealing with high order polynomial.Another example is algorithm. Applying algorithm into programming will help decrease meaningless duplication. However, it might be time-costing or space costing quite often. To find or develope a clear and good algorithm can be quite hard. But we have to experience and shoulder the hardship and complexity to be simple.

In some field, simple is not enough. For example, literature. When studying comparative literature, people have to master two or more languages to do the research.Art will get dull without complexity. But not mathematics. We are not meant to make these look complex and “zhuangbility”, all we need is to make things simple but also convincing.


Try to think in this way: Can I abstract the nature of problem? Can I express them in a more clear way? Can I recount this problem to another person in an most efficient way?


If you do think like this, I believe finally the method is to use mathematics, for most of the case.

Look, this is the power of simple.


10 Responses

  • 支持一个~~~

  • The power of simplicity会不会更好?

  • “zhuangbility” 啊哈,这个词儿是你自造的么~ 想起了geilivable一词~ 呵呵~ 全文除了在 class of derivatives 木有看懂之外,基本顺畅读下来了~ 嘿嘿,俺英语才过四级,六级考了两次,都杯具了~见谅

  • The art of mathematics, it actually can make everything as simple as it can be, but not simpler.

  • Mathematics isn’t as interesting as physics which is also the most prominent subject in NJU, so come and join our department !

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