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'belief in math concepts' - University of Chicago prompt "Find X" - feedback

alebliss6 1 / -  
Mar 4, 2012   #1
Prompt: The University of Chicago has long been renowned for its provocative essay questions. The university thinks of them as an opportunity for students to tell about themselves, their tastes and their ambitions. They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.

-Find x.

The thing I have always loved about math is that it is true. If a problem is done by a hundred people there will always be one true answer among them. 2 + 2 will ALWAYS equal 4. Math is not objective or opinionated like other courses, and it most cases the answer to a problem is not "answers will vary". Math is simply applying knowledge to evaluate and equation to get the one true result. Using the idea that math is always true, I attempted to find x. In this attempt to find x, my theory of "true" math was rejected. X is neither simple nor true. X is opinionated and objective. Why does X violate my theory of simple math? The reason is because X relies on some other function or property in order to be defined which is what gives x its endless definitions and values. X is not just the derivative of a quadratic function or the equation of the tangent line to the point (4, 5). X is also the altitude of an equilateral triangle and the arcsine of angle theta and as of right now, X is the subject of this essay.

While defining X, I realize that X is a lot like me. There is not just one simple definition of me. Like X, I rely on some other function or property in order to truly be defined. In other words, I vary with my surroundings. By changing the mathematical term in front of X, the value of X is also changed. This opens the door to an unlimited amount of values for x and also myself. With the vast amount of situations and locations it is fair to say that there are unlimited quantities of versions of myself. With this being said, it is important to realize that unlike my initial belief in math concepts, there is not one true definition of x. I will work endlessly to find my own personal x. Like any other variable in a math equation, x will change and so will I, which means the final value of x is really up to me, and I say x is undefined.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated!
fletcherj003 - / 6  
Mar 4, 2012   #2
You did a fantastic job answering the question as well as explaining the rationality behind your answer.

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