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The Calculus of Friendship by Steven Strogatz

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Irrationality (1978-79)

After my demoralizing encounter with linear algebra, I thought about switching from math to physics. Then in my sophomore year I had an inspirational teacher, Elias Stein, for complex analysis, and so I went back to majoring in math again.

At some point during that year, my brother Ian had a talk with me. It’s hazy in my memory, but I picture us driving home for Thanksgiving. He was asking me about my future plans, what was I going to major in, etc., and then started trying to persuade me to take all the pre-med courses. Not this again—everyone had always told me I should be a doctor. “You like math and science,” they’d ...

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