The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.
— Dr. Albert A. Bartlett, World Population Balance Board of Advisors
At one time, when the famous mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss was in primary school, his teacher asked the pupils to add all the integers from 1 to 100 (or, at least, that’s the most common version of the story). No doubt, the teacher expected this to occupy his students for a while, but Gauss produced the result almost immediately. This might seem to require lightning-fast mental arithmetic, but the truth is, the actual calculation needed is quite simple; ...