Math for biology

less than 1 minute read

Edward O. Wilson, in the Wall Street Journal writes: “Great Scientist ? Good at Math”.

For many young people who aspire to be scientists, the great bugbear is mathematics. Without advanced math, how can you do serious work in the sciences? Well, I have a professional secret to share: Many of the most successful scientists in the world today are mathematically no more than semiliterate.

Wilson takes himself as the canonical model. Razib Khan comments somewhat critically (“Does one need math for a career in science?”). I think that field biology requires working diligently and independently in the field in a way that some kinds of science do not, and personal qualities that set successful fieldworkers apart are pretty much orthogonal to math skill.