After reading Jeffery N. Lucas’ column, “Traversing the Law: Math isn’t the answer; it’s the problem” (July 2010), it has taken me this length of time to simmer down and respond. Mathematics is not the problem. Mathematics is the language used to describe physical phenomena and provide insight into the interactions of the phenomena’s physical components. 

After reading Jeffery N. Lucas’ column, “Traversing the Law: Math isn’t the answer; it’s the problem” (July 2010), it has taken me this length of time to simmer down and respond. Mathematics is not the problem. Mathematics is the language used to describe physical phenomena and provide insight into the interactions of the phenomena’s physical components. Ever since the publication of early surveying textbooks (16th century), mathematics has been “dumbed down” because the reader has been unable or unwilling to make an effort to understand its intrinsic aspects. If the land surveyor has a good fundamental education in algebra, trigonometry, calculus and statistics, the individual should have developed sound analytical skills to evaluate found evidence and identify possible locations for referenced calls and accessories. Before employing all the sophisticated technologies, the surveyor should use simpler tools to solve the problem (called education) and understand the interrelationship of the various components used in retracing a boundary.

The examples described by Mr. Lucas are appropriate. The real problem is that our education system (primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions) have compartmentalized academic disciplines and courses rather than marrying them into useful bodies of knowledge.

--Herbert W. Stoughton, PhD, PE, PLS, CP, Geodetic Engineer, Cheyenne, Wyo.