Formulas and Derivations

In order to understand the end state one has to understand how one got there. The derivations in most sciences contain frameworks and methods which are broad in their application. Memorizing them sometimes is difficult but helps to develop an analytical mindset. It helps to break down the equation (the problem or challenge) into its constituent parts and then rejoin the parts into the whole (to understand the weaknesses and strengths). This helps to understand the minutiae. Sometimes when we look at the end result we feel it is an obvious statement or result but it’s usually not if someone has derived it. What this means is that the end result has become intuitive now. For e.g. there is actually a proof for 1+1 = 2. For a very long time there wasn’t a mathematical proof associated with it but when Bertrand Russell wrote Principia Mathematica with his co-author the proof for the equation only came after about 200 pages or so. The material before it was just the buildup. If you look at 1+1=2 you could almost laugh at the need of a proof. But almost 500 years after the Renaissance it still took 200 pages to explain that equation. Easy? I don’t think so. In all honesty I haven’t read it and don’t understand it but then I’m also not a wizard at Mathematics. All that just to say that while proofs might seem tedious and laborious they’re actually important because they not only drive up to the required formula but also create an analytical framework for solving problems.

Now something more contextual and subjective. The MBA is very different from a Masters or a PhD education. Much of the work done during the MBA is like a check in a box to understand the holistic picture. None of the materials go into depth about the subject because the goal is not to understand the details or become a subject matter expert but to understand how to administer a business. You’re usually the second most knowledgeable person in any room but you know how to work with people who are subject matter experts day in and day out. You understand resources and their return on investment and understand what it takes to deliver a work product through a team. It would be easy in some contexts to become the subject matter expert but not in this case. It is more essential and important to understand how those subject matter experts work with each other to create value. In a specialized masters the person pursuing the education intends to become a subject matter expert. That is also the intent of the curriculum in a masters education. An example would be a person intending to become a hedge fund manager versus a person who intends to become a wiz analyst who actually looks at the numbers day in and day out. The same applies to marketing managers versus pricing experts and product or program managers versus product designers.

All these examples are only to say that there is a stark difference between a Masters in a specific subject or field which requires an expertise in understanding the frameworks within a subject. I think one should focus on understanding the derivations and them memorizing them because they develop a way of thinking. It seems simple to follow the derivations but to reproduce them takes a substantial amount of effort. It’s not completely rote memorization because there is a logical flow in most of the equations and all you need to remember is the steps. Once you’re in one of the steps you only have to follow mathematical rules and remember what the end goal is. I think it would be essential to memorize derivations. If I could go back that is one thing I would do in my grade school.

Love and Peace,

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