Reverse Polish, or What I've Learned at Math Camp

     
As a new first-year, it's great to be on campus early to take part in the most fun camp of all: Math Camp! Technically, it's called the Quantitative Methods-Finance-Accounting Workshop, but that sure is a mouthful. No matter what you call it, it's been a fun (and useful!) experience so far.
As an ex-History major, I don't have a super traditional business background. I didn't take practical classes like accounting or finance in college, and have spent the years since in government consulting, focused on geo-strategic issues. I hadn't really touched math since high school! My most recent reacquaintance with it was studying for the GMAT. (To those of you out there studying for it right now, my thoughts are with you!) So, I was a little worried about getting in over my head in the MBA program.
The good news is: if you were a humanities/social sciences person, Haas' math camp is a real boon. The first year curriculum at Haas is designed to provide a solid foundation in stats, finance, accounting -- all of those quantitative methods that you'll need in your post-MBA life, but may never have touched before. Math camp ensures that you are ready to enter the core classes feeling completely at home with the terminology and concepts your professors are referencing. The professors are working hard to familiarize us with all the necessary concepts, and I've learned a lot in the last 7 days! For instance, I had never before seen this great invention that our Finance section is using: the financial calculator.
As you can see, the design on these doesn't seem to have advanced since 1981. Luckily, it means you feel more like you're in that Oliver Stone classic, Wall Street, when you start plugging numbers in. And if you have never used one of these, you are in for a treat. You might think that 1+2=3, but in fact: 1 2 + is 3. These are the wonders of Reverse Polish Notation!
This pre-term workshop has been pretty invaluable in helping me to feel much more at home in the world of numbers and functions again. I definitely recommend it if you have never had exposure to stats, finance, or accounting, or even just want some brushing-up. Being on campus early has also been a great way to meet some of my classmates before the real term starts! I know that some of my fellow math campers are mostly here for the social aspects, and the already-busy calendar is giving us all a taste for our jam-packed fall semester to come. I can only imagine how many activities we'll have to choose from in September!
You can expect posts on a flood of events in the coming weeks - Orientation Week, our fall classes, the beginning of football season, and much more! I'll look forward to keeping up with you all, and I'll definitely get better photos up (better than a calculator pic, anyhow!) as the semester progresses.

—ceinwyn

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