Quote of the Day


A considerable portion of my high school trigonometry course was devoted to the solution of oblique triangles. I pride myself on the fact that I was the best triangle solver my high school ever turned out. When I went to Princeton I found that I was up against very stiff competition. But whereas other freshmen might outdo me in many ways, I felt confident that I would shine when the time came to solve triangles. All through my undergraduate years I was waiting for that golden moment. Then I waited all through graduate school, through my work with Einstein, at Los Alamos, and while teaching and consulting for more than a dozen years. I have still not had an excuse for using my talents for solving oblique triangles.

If a professional mathematician never uses these dull techniques in a highly varied career, why must all high school students devote several weeks to the subject?


John G. Kemeny

Random Essays on Mathematics, Education and Computers, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964, p. 13.

    Source: Rosemary Schmaltz, Out of the Mouths of Mathematicians. A Quotation Book for Philomaths, MAA, 1993


Question for teachers:   So why do we require students to solve triangles?

Standard question: Who was Kemeny?