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Communications of the ACM

ACM Opinion

Undermining Mathematics In the Land of Zero

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female student in classroom in India

Credit: Press Trust of India

India's regulatory body for engineering and technical education, the All India Council for Technical Education, has decided to open the doors of engineering education to students with no knowledge of high school-grade mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

Till now, mathematics and physics were compulsory for pursuing degrees in most branches of engineering. Over the years, additional qualifying subjects like computer science have been added, but this is the first time mathematics, physics, and chemistry will be optional and not essential subjects for aspiring engineers.

The broad idea of encouraging a multi-disciplinary approach to engineering is welcome, but it can't be done by underplaying the importance of core subjects. Making mathematics and physics optional for an engineering degree runs counter to the spirit of the multi-disciplinary approach and reduces the talk of India's past achievements, like the discovery of zero, to empty rhetoric.

From The Tribune
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