A debate took place Tuesday over two calculus concepts.
Cindy Soderstrom’s Calculus 1 class took part in an exercise called “The Great Debate.”
The debate took place in the Technology Building room 125. The debate argued for two different calculus concepts called integrals and derivatives. The class split into two teams and developed a presentation to argue which respective concept was best.
The team captain for the Integrals was Michael Reynolds, who said, “In regard to the Great Debate of Calculus Mathematics, it is solely by preference of complexity avoidance that one might, logically, reason to declare the mighty integral as subordinate to the naturally inferior derivative.”
The debate consisted of three parts, the opening, the rebuttal and the summary. Each team sent up a member to deliver part of the debate.
For the Integral team, the opening was delivered by George Elliot, who said, “Of all the major concepts covered in Calculus 1, the integral is the most important.”
“The derivative is useful and practical in optimization problems which will probably be applied to space science applications when I grow up and become an astrophysicist,” Jaclyn Lakey said. Lakey delivered the opening for the Derivatives team.
Next came the rebuttal part of the debate.
“Yes, derivatives have many uses in mathematics, but it can be argued that integration is infinitely more useful,” Thomas Woodbury said, speaking for the Integral team.
Terrence Kim, speaking for the derivatives in his rebuttal said, “When taking the calculus course there is very, I mean very good reason why derivatives are taught before integrals. Learning integrals first is like learning Einstein’s theory of relativity first and then working backwards.”
The final summary for the Integrals team was delivered by Bryan Luke.
“I chose integrals over derivatives for the main reason that integrals are a more advanced math. When solving an integral you have to use a derivative, thus making an integral one step higher on the scale of math equations,” Luke said.
For the Derivatives team, the summary was given by Bogart McAvoy who gave an ‘Ode to the derivative.’
“Oh derivative, how do I love thee, let me count the ways. Derivative, sweet derivative, you allow me to analyze the behavior of functions without having to solve for the variable,” McAvoy’s ode proclaimed.
Laughter, clapping and good-humored sarcasm ensued during the debate. Finally, there was a vote on which concept was better. Derivatives won by two points. Soderstrom stated to the class that both concepts were dependent on one another.
In an email to Soderstrom, Reynolds wrote, “I found the assignment both entertaining and enlightening.”
Soderstrom saw this exercise done at a national math conference in New Orleans in January of 2007. This is the first time she has tried this exercise with a class.
“This has helped them to understand these concepts better,” Soderstrom said.