Calculus is Trivial

A Letter to the Editor by Senior Kavi Mistry

“Calculus is trivial”. The phrase doesn’t even make sense. How can something as quintessential to modern society as calculus be of little importance? If calculus isn’t important, why is it taught all over the world? But, that doesn’t matter. I didn’t know what the word “trivial” meant anyway. I just saw it used in a satirical Youtube video about math proofs and immediately integrated it into my vocabulary. I assumed it referred to something so simple that it could be done in one’s sleep. Under my definition, everything that is “easy” is trivial. 

At this point, you may be asking yourself: “Hey Kavi, doesn’t that just mean that you find calculus easy rather than a blanket statement claiming calculus is easy for everyone?”. 

Yes. That is entirely correct. But, I’m not such a shallow person as to merely state the obvious. Bragging only brings forth evil and resentment from my peers. I was after something deeper. Something that would bring society into a new golden age. If I could find an objective way to measure the difficulty of calculus, then I could reform education based on my findings. I would be a hero of my generation for fixing a once flawed education system.

With a sample size of one and a biased population, the room for error was high. But, I ignored it. My experiences can’t possibly be that far off from reality. Even if they don’t perfectly translate to other people’s lives, that’s an experimental error. But, how exactly do I account for the error? I could increase the sample size by surveying other people’s opinions on the topic. This doesn’t solve the problem at hand though. Opinions are subjective, so finding the truth would be difficult because the most popular answer isn’t necessarily the correct one.

I believe the solution lies in studying the brain. If I hook my head up to electrodes to measure my brain activity, I could see fluctuations when doing calculus. If the fluctuations are high, then perhaps calculus is not trivial and vice versa. But, does a method like this really give me a definitive solution? I don’t think it does. Can I prove that changes in brain activity when doing math problems are caused by the math problems and not something else? With current technology, probably not. Perhaps this exact experiment is being done in a lab in China, but I wouldn’t know. That doesn’t matter though. The point is that I can’t prove whether or not my claim is true. 

My ideas are simply ahead of their time. But, this is not the end. There is still hope for finding a solution. I can use a method that generations of mathematicians have used to solve seemingly impossible problems. That is, a proof by contradiction:

Suppose calculus is not trivial. That means Kavi Mistry is the smartest person on the planet for believing calculus is trivial. Kavi Mistry scored a 90% on his last Chemistry exam. If Kavi Mistry is the smartest person on the planet, he would have scored a 100%, which is a contradiction. Therefore, calculus is trivial.

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