I have been teaching Norwegian students for some years; every year it’s a new group but every year they are a pleasure to teach. Since we follow their syllabus the textbook is in Norwegian, which is fine for most mathematics but probability questions can be challenging; just a subtle change in wording can change the resulting probability.
Mathematics is a fairly universal language but there are occasional differences in Norway. In classes for British students I often use . or × for multiplication as in or , but Norwegians use · as in and using the ‘wrong’ notation always produces complaints. Vectors are written as rather than , and the typed bold letter is not used.
Other interesting differences in symbols in the textbook are:
- for the unit vectors
for the interval from to 0
In differentiation, function notation is used but I have never before seen it used as in or
The solution of is written >
Of course, I am assuming it’s not just the book I’m using, but as the students are comfortable with the notation I expect it’s common in Norway.
The exams are interesting. They are much longer than in the UK lasting 5 hours, so they can only have 1 exam per day. But what is really fascinating, is that to maintain national standards, externally set exams are only sat by selected students, chosen in a lottery. The students only get short notice of whether or not they have been selected and the external exam mark supersedes any internal exam marks. Different selections are made for each subject.
The standard of mathematics they have to learn is roughly equivalent to A level, but the standard of behaviour, willingness to learn and participation is far superior! They study more subjects than is common in the UK and not only do they all know who Niels Henrik Abel was, but even know his most famous result (insolubility of a quintic). Impressive. How many British students can do the same for any British mathematician? They get taught multiplication tables up to 20, which is twice as far as here in the UK and further than the 12 in my day.
Question: Can you name any other famous Norwegian mathematicians? One of them is well known for theorems in group theory. Answers below
Answer: Sylow plus 9 others are listed at Mathematicians born in Norway. Lie and Skolem should be familiar names to university mathematics students.