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Seems very true in my opinion. I've always excelled at math, essentially have a bachelors in mathematics, etc etc. My weakness has always been getting the details of the "basic" math correct.

Higher math is about logic, abstractions and applying them to solve problems. Basic math is about holding bits of information in your head and manipulating them accurately. I absolutely believe that basic math taxes your working memory system more than advanced math does.

I just skimmed Outliers book by Malcom Gladwell. One of the things author discusses are differences in number systems in different cultures. He argues (in fact quoting Stanislas Dehaene [1]), that in eastern languages number words are shorter and faster to pronounce. Thus, you can hold more of them at a time in memory (short term memory is very time sensitive). You could say that you dont really need to 'pronounce' stuff to make mental operations, still they have sensory form (be it visual, auditory,...), so argument holds.

He also brings up the issue of regularity of eastern number systems making it much easier to do calculations in these languages - to an extent that it gives eastern children real advantage in math. Developmentally speaking.


Sounds very true in my experience. This is one of the reasons why naming (in programming and everything else) is so crucial: good naming directly influences how easily one can mentally manipulate the objects in question. This is another reason why mathematicians work so hard to create concise abstractions.

I'll have to take a look at that book, sounds fascinating. Thanks.

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