Today I had to go invigilate a MATH 277 final as part of my TA requirements (we each have to invigilate/proctor two final exams; sometimes we get ones we’ve actually been TAs for and sometimes we don’t. This was a case of the latter). It turns out that MATT 277 is University of Calgary’s version of MATH 275, or multivariate calculus. The test involved about 20 or so questions.
Our job as TAs, apart from making everybody sign in on the little attendance sheet, was mainly to just walk around in order to discourage cheating and to help anybody out who raised their hand.
So let me just quickly set the scene for you: a large gym full of 250+ students, a 2-hour exam, and lots and lots of calculus.
I bet you can guess what I was thinking about.
I was thinking about Leibniz!
I was wondering, as I walked down the aisles of seats, watching students write the elongated “s” for integration and the dx/dy (or variations of that) for differentiation, what Leibniz would think if he saw a roomful of people, in 2016, still using some of his original symbols. Like, how ridiculous is that? Calculus has been studied, expanded upon, and extended to a ton of different fields/uses since it was first developed, but we’re still using some of Leibniz’ original symbols.
And what would he think about calculus being taught as basically standard curriculum at universities? What would he think about the tons of different uses of calculus today?
I know I kind of talked about this in a previous post, but I actually think about this quite a bit. Especially today.
Yay calculus! Yay Leibniz!