(Another story from the same regional state school – the math is in color)
Prof. Kevin was a full professor. He was about 70, very nice and pleasant. I was teaching a graduate course (Intro to Complex Variables). He asked to sit in and he took notes. Early in the course I wrote something on the board in a way (on purpose) that made sure that everyone understood what a function is.
Prof. Kevin didn’t understand.
(For those who want to skip the math, read Kevin’s Letter to Nabisco that he distributed to all of us. I was so shocked by his lack of intellectual skills that I was afraid something was wrong. I was told that he had always been this incompetent.)
I wrote that if f(z) was exp z, then (with the standard conditions),
Kevin said, “That’s wrong.” He told me that if I wrote f(z) , then I have to write f-1(w), not f-1(z).
He didn’t understand a basic a basic concept that calculus students need to know. (They usually think they do, but they don’t. I go over it with them carefully, and I go over the notation carefully. It makes life much easier if you understand, at a mathematical level, what a function is.)
The students in the class got excited (they knew what a function was), came to the board, and tried to help me explain it to Kevin. It didn’t work. He was clearly set in his ways.
I asked an older colleaque, someone who I knew did know math. He said, “No, Kevin has always been like that.” He then went on to tell me the following.
Kevin didn’t think you could change the index of summation in an infinite series. That is probably related to the fact that he didn’t understand functions, and, thus sequences, etc…