According to V.I.Arnold , everybody should be able to divide 111 by 3 without a calculator. In October 2000, the present authors conducted a test with the students of mathematics in two small universities in the US and Russia (Mount Holyoke College, Mass. and University of Pereslavl, Pereslavl-Zalessky). We announced that we were going to have a public opinion poll. Every student was given a folded piece of paper with the question ``'' and asked to write the answer in secret from the others.
|University||Course/Year||Number of Students||Number of Answers: Correct/Blank/Wrong||All Wrong Answers|
|Mt. Holyoke||``Linear algebra'' (2, 3, 4 years)||24||22/0/2||
111 : 3 = 21
|Mt. Holyoke||``Calculus 1'' (1st year)||9||7/0/2||
|Pereslavl||``General Algebra'' (3rd year)||16||10/2/4||111 : 3 = 1;
111 : 3 = 33.61;
111 : 3 = 111n : 3n, where .
|Pereslavl||'`Computational Geometry'' (4th year)||11||9/2/0|
1. The answer 111n:3n, where , is consonant with the famous Arnold's story  about the French boy who was asked to add 2 and 3 (his answer was ``2+3=3+2, because addition is commutative'').
2. A probable reason why letter `l' appeared in one of the answers: the student mistook the last `1' of 111 for `l' because of teacher's handwriting.
The table suggests that nowadays typical American students know mathematics a little better than their Russian counterparts. Is it a sign of decline of the Russian school mathematical education?
 ``Californian wars in Dubna''. V.I.Arnold interviewed by E.Kokurina. -- ``Obshchaya gazeta'', no. 38, September 21, 2000 (in Russian). Text and PostScript files available on-line.