The Williams Math Department links (approvingly?) to the When Will I Use Math? webpage. For 95% of Williams students, isn’t the answer to that question “Never?”

1) Almost no one who is not in a numbers-related field uses calculus, much less anything beyond that, after college. How many of our readers have used the math that they learned at Williams after graduation? Have you had to do any real analysis recently? Topology? If you aren’t a math professor (or an academic in the mathematically orientated subfield of some other discipline), math is irrelevant.

2) Even those who go on to be math teachers, like my roommate Chris Jones ’88, now head of the Math Department at Horace Mann, spend almost all their time teaching the math that they knew before they arrived at Williams.

3) Even the geeky people in finance and business (like me) almost never use anything beyond calculus. In a decade of applied work, I have used calculus no more than a handful of times.

As always, I am a fan of the Math/Stat Department and think that being a math major is almost always a great idea. And everyone who wants to increase their chances of success in the business world should take every statistics class that Williams offers as well as a computer science class or two. But, only a handful of students will actually use the math that they learn at Williams after they graduate.

Q: When Will I Use Math?
A: Never

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