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Scientist-in-Residence Eugenia Cheng Is Changing Views about Math

Image courtesy of Allison Terry for the Chicago Tribune

With a new book and a heightened focus on STEM fields nationwide, SAIC's Eugenia Cheng (Liberal Arts) is on the front lines of making mathematics a joy to artists and the general public alike.

Cheng, the School's scientist-in-residence, appeared on Chicago Tonight to discuss the recently-published Beyond Infinity, which surveys her mot prescient theme: mathematics not only as a joy, but as a necessity—for its logical and analytical uses as well as balancing your checkbook.

"It's not just about getting to the destination," Cheng told Eddie Arruza, comparing mathematics to the Loch Ness monster, a dream, and a dark forest in order to commuicate the lore and vastness of its applications.

On first listen, these may not be the ideal comparisons to make when trying to coax right-brained art students out of adolescent math phobias, but this is precisely Cheng's goal at SAIC.

"Unfortunately, [mathematics] tends to be taught without any creativity at all," Cheng told Kate MacArthur of the Chicago Tribune. Her class, The Elegance of Abstraction, aims to change people's view of the topic, viewing math as a different way to see and interpret.

 "[U]nderstanding...and making choices about things...is what math is really about when it’s at a higher level," Cheng said.

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