I understand what an equation means if I have a way of figuring out the characteristics of its solution without actually solving it.

4 thoughts on “What it means to understand an equation”

Peter

Can that generalise to a theory, I wonder.

Colin Drake

I love when my science professors stress qualitative understanding, not just equation plugging/chugging. When I took electromagnetism, I did so much better than in any other science course I took, simply because the professor would write the problem, step back, and just guide us through thinking about it before solving it. I wish more teachers took this approach. It seems obvious, but it isn’t done enough (at least in my experience).

Can that generalise to a theory, I wonder.

I love when my science professors stress qualitative understanding, not just equation plugging/chugging. When I took electromagnetism, I did so much better than in any other science course I took, simply because the professor would write the problem, step back, and just guide us through thinking about it before solving it. I wish more teachers took this approach. It seems obvious, but it isn’t done enough (at least in my experience).

The more I think about this quotation, the more I like it.

And professors would do well to heed the advice of Mr. Drake.