Lv 4
RAF asked in Science & MathematicsMathematics · 9 years ago

A question about mathematical ability?

We are all of course familiar with the stereotype that Asians are good at math.

We also know that most stereotypes have a foundation in reality.

What is it that causes Asians to frequently have superior mathematical abilities (before I get called a racist, SAT scores in math are highest [on average] among Asians, they're often the largest demographic at the nation's best math/science schools like the Thomas Jefferson High School of Technology, etc.)?

Some theorize that the Asian languages could have something to do with it. For a bit more info on that theory, here's a link: http://www.chineseorjapanese.com/asians-good-at-ma...

What are your personal opinions/theories?

Please no racist answers, either.


Ace, I was not calling anyone a racist. You don't necessarily have to be a racist to make a racist comment.

11 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    In my experience, it is environmental and cultural. It

    may be health related too.

    Health related because I believe Asians, as a whole, eat fewer

    junk and processed foods and more fish ( high in Omega 3 acids)

    and green vegetables, and fewer sodas , potato chips and processed

    foods than both Caucasian Americans and African Americans.

    You have heard about the Obesity Issue frequently in American

    news, especially childhood obesity. This study


    suggests it is possible that that dynamic is impairing student math performance.

    I'm probably viewed as a

    statistical outlier as I am African American but was

    able to earn an 800 score on the mathematics section

    of the Graduate Record Exam when I took it December '89

    I've also had the experience of substituting in Calculus classes

    where all enrolled students were Asian and Caucasian Americans

    so that as the teacher, I was the only African American face in the room!

    In Upward Bound classes, where nearly all of the students are African American

    I get some exceptional math students, although I am disappointed to have to admit

    I get more excellent female students than males IN MATH which used to be male dominated.

    I think the perception that Asians are more competent in mathematics is a fallacy that



    those Asians who are able to amass the resources to come to the United States are substantially

    above average financially and intellectually in comparison with many they have left back home

    in China, India, Vietnam, Korea, Japan and other countries. Moreover, there are seemingly

    large numbers of them because they are coming from countries, in many cases, with EXTREMELY

    large populations,

    The top academic TEN percent of China and India alone is more than Two Hundred Million alone!!!

    That produces a large number of people from whom we will see some high achievers.

    India has some extremely competitive Engineering Schools too, in particularly, the

    India Institute of Technology. Requirements for admission are so competitive that

    some excellent Indian students have to settle for Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University or Stanford as back up schools.

    Source(s): google search population of China gives www.google.com/publicdata 1,338,299,512 - 2010 Population of India returns www.google.com/publicdata 1,170,938,000 - 2010 Source: World Bank
  • 9 years ago

    The aspects of mathematics measured by SAT scores and admittance to math/science high schools can be improved by rote learning. Practice makes perfect. If asians are in fact better at math it is due to better study habits forced upon them by their tiger moms.

    I find the language hypothesis difficult to accept. 2 + 2 = 4 regardless of the language of the person reading or writing it, although dos y dos son quatro sounds much cooler than two and two is four.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    I believe it is a combination of factors.

    Language, culture, values, ethics, etc.

    You'll find that amongst immigrants in general, they have a drive to succeed. Immigrants are 67% more likely to start a new business.

    I for one, did graduate research on Educational Studies in Mathematics. I found that there are different methods of learning math that are in no way similar to how we learn here in the US.

    Try searching Vedic Mathematics, which utilizes special properties of numbers in order to arrive at an answer much quicker than any traditional method. Each rule is called a Sutra, hence it's Eastern influence.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

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  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    There may be several reasons behind it. Some people says we are so fascinated about engineering profession that we are compelled to sharp our skills in mathematics. Some other people may give credit to discipline in our day to day life and specially in education system. However in my opinion we have something in genetics that gives us lead in mathematics. To vouch for my opinion, you can refer Indian history.India has made significant contributions in the evolution of Mathematics. Aryabhatta, Brhamagupta and Bhaskara II are some of the famous mathematicians from ancient India. We defined mathematics in our own ways in Vedic Mathematics and given ZERO and Decimal system to the world. We were aware about trigonometrics much before the other part of the world.So what you think? It is social, genetic, economic or any other factor which gives Indians an edge over mathematics?

  • KevinM
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    I agree that the language issue is a significant part of this ability issue - calling the second ten numbers "ten plus one" "ten plus two" - makes mathematical concepts very clear from an early age. In fact, I called these ten-ty one, ten-ty two, etc. for my children when they were young.

    Another factor is the typical Eastern work ethic. There is a Chinese saying, "'No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich". (Check out a book called "Outliers" - I think you'd like it.) Wow! That kind of work ethic does wonders for understanding math...

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    WHOA don't call anyone a racist until you know them in real life.

    Asians are no better at math than any other group of people.


  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    I have read that Asian parents tutor and encourage their children to do alot of work outside school

    The more time spent on a subject the better the results.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Maybe it's because they are trying to make a better life for their families by doing well in school and place a higher value on education than the typical American. I don't think it's because they're smarter per se, but just that they actually want to learn or are forced to learn by their parents.

  • 9 years ago

    It's just cultural difference. While everyone are waisting Asians are doing something useful with it. It's not something what would be impossible to accomplish by anyone.

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