Strong Math Foundations are Important for AI

Artificial Intelligence is poised to transform society as we know it. To be prepared for this future, it is imperative we educate our future workforce with the knowledge to build and deploy AI technology. Core mathematical concepts from algebra, calculus, and probability lie at the heart of modern AI innovation. As such, engaging in the development of these technologies requires that students start with strong mathematical foundations. We applaud the University of California for recently clarifying its math admissions requirements, ensuring they can only be satisfied by high school courses aligned with the state's standards definitions for college readiness.

While today’s advances might suggest classic mathematical topics like calculus or algebra are outdated, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, modern AI systems are rooted in mathematics, making a strong command over math necessary for careers in this field. The algorithmic backbone of deep learning—gradient descent—exemplifies this connection by combining calculus with (linear) algebra. Vectors and matrices are the building blocks of neural networks, and modeling growth on a logarithmic scale is fundamental to the science of neural network training. Trigonometric and Pythagorean identities, rather than being “outdated,” underlie crucial tools from data science, including the Fourier transform and least squares algorithms. Studying these core topics in high school is the best preparation for later specialization in machine learning, data science, or any STEM field, and generally we would much rather hire students who have mastered fundamentals than those who have a shallow familiarity with the latest tools or software.

Failure to maintain standards in the mathematical curriculum in public education will increase the gap between public schools—especially those of under-resourced districts—and private schools, hampering efforts to diversify STEM. All California children—not just privately educated ones—deserve a top mathematical education in the foundations of our future. We urge California policymakers to do all they can to ensure access to such an education.

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Sam Altman. CEO, OpenAI

Shyamal Anadkat. Applied AI, OpenAI

Samy Bengio. Senior Director of Machine Learning Research, Apple

Sebastien Bubeck. VP GenAI Research, Microsoft

Bryan Catanzaro. VP Applied Deep Learning Research, NVIDIA

Adam Cheyer. Co-founder, Siri; VP of AI Experience, Airbnb

Bill Dally. Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President of Research, NVIDIA

Jeff Dean. Chief Scientist, Google DeepMind and Google Research; ACM Prize in Computing, IEEE John von Neumann Medal 

Jonathan Frankle. Chief Scientist, MosaicML; Chief Scientist Neural Networks, Databricks

Ali Ghodsi. CEO and Co-founder, Databricks

John Giannandrea. SVP Machine Learning and AI Strategy, Apple

Boris Ginsburg. Senior Director, NVIDIA

Steve Golik. CEO and Co-Founder, Juice Labs

Ramin Hasani. CEO and Co-Founder, Liquid AI

Urs Hölzle. Google Fellow and Former SVP of Technical Infrastructure, Google

Jeff Huber. Former SVP, Google; Founder, GRAIL & Triatomic Capital (AI fund); Chairman, College of Computing, Data Science & Society (CDSS), UC Berkeley

Michael Kagan. CTO, NVIDIA

Branislav Kisačanin. Co-founder and Chief Scientist at Institute of AI R&D of Serbia; Sr. Architect at NVIDIA; Instructor at AwesomeMath

Oleksii Kuchaiev. Director of Applied Research, NVIDIA

Yann LeCun. Chief AI Scientist, Meta; Jacob T. Schwartz Professor of Computer Science & Data Science, NYU; Turing Award Laureate; NAS, NAE

Edo Liberty. CEO and Founder, Pinecone

Curtis Liu. CTO and Co-founder, Amplitude

Ming-Yu Liu. VP GenAI Research, NVIDIA

Peyman Milanfar. Distinguished Scientist, Google Research

Vedant Misra. Research Engineer and Technical Lead — Gemini Core Pretraining, Google DeepMind

Mira Murati. CTO, OpenAI

Elon Musk. X

S. Muthu Muthukrishnan. VP Sponsored Products, Amazon Advertising

Mekka Okereke. General Manager, Google Play Apps

John Overdeck. Co-chair and Co-founder, Two Sigma

Jakub Pachocki. Chief Scientist, OpenAI

Swami Sivasubramanian. VP Data and Machine Learning Services, Amazon Web Services

Spenser Skates. CEO, Amplitude

Ion Stoica. President and Co-founder, Anyscale; Co-founder, Conviva; Executive Chairman and Co-founder, Databricks

Andrew Sutherland. Founder, Quizlet

Richard Tang. Senior Engineer, Cisco Systems

Avery Wang. Co-founder and Inventor, Shazam

Greg Yang. Co-founder, xAI

Matei Zaharia. CTO and Co-founder, Databricks

Denny Zhou. Founder and Lead of the Large Language Model Reasoning Team, Google DeepMind