What's more difficult: maths or the humanities?

As a mathematician, I have dreams about Pi Day: Strangers would offer me flowers, give up their seats on the subway and even let me cut in line during rush hour. After all, the power of mathematics is extraordinary, allowing us to land a rover on Mars, build a computer to out think chess masters and use a phone to navigate the world.

My dreams are not too far from today's reality. When strangers discover my profession, it is often followed by the phrase, "You must be smart." This is startling considering they know nothing of my talents or achievements (or lack thereof), bestowing admiration based solely on maths.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2018, with the headline 'What's more difficult: maths or the humanities?'. Print Edition | Subscribe