Just a Log


Over the years, I’ve been taking math courses at various universities. With each step through the sequence, I happily enroll in the next course, thinking, ‘now THIS is going to be the course with all math majors in it, no complainers, no one whining about too much homework or too many chapters being covered.’
I was sure the proofs class at Cal State this fall was a sure winner, especially when the professor (from Russia!) asked how many math majors there were in the class and a sea of hands erupted. I was in math heaven. I’ll just sum up the course by saying I’ve never seen such a bunch of math prima donnas in my entire life. Obsessed with test scores and what the grader gave them on homeworks; complaining the book was too hard.
YOU ARE A MATH MAJOR. MATH IS HARD.
Tonight was the last class. Our last proof (which the class tried to get out of, by getting Prof to do a review, but he refused) was a grand proof, the Bolzano-Weierstrass Theorem, which simply states: Every bounded infinite subset of the set of real numbers has an accumulation point. Beautiful, beautiful stuff. Or at least I thought so until the class got restless because it was three minutes until the end of class. “But I’m not done yet,” Professor said. “Just let me finish. You’ll see this is a really nice finish.”
He had chalk all over his face, he was rushing, he had an inequality on the board, and then if the class was any indication, he did the unthinkable. To get rid of a power, he took a log.
That’s right, he took a logarithm of both sides.
The class went wild. “A log!” some cried.
“That’s it,” I heard someone mutter in disgust. A few stormed out of the room, and there was practically a fistfight in the back. “This is BULLSHIT!” a man near me hissed to the class. ‘A LOG! It isn’t FAIR!”
The professor looked at the now-talking-loudly class and said, “What happened? I just took a log!”

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