Did you do an integral today?

When I was at UBC, I lived in a graduate student residence. There was an engineering student who would ask me regularly if I had done an integral that day. While I suspect it was a bit of a joke I was never quite sure how to respond other than, “well, no, that’s not really what I do.”

This interaction has stuck with me and while you can find many write ups about the misconceptions people have about math (see here for example), I know this phenomena exists in every field. My sister is a librarian, and I was shocked to learn that there’s more to her job that scowling at people from behind her desk and saying “shh.”

What are the misconceptions people have about what you do?

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