As a Math Tutor in Hong Kong, one of the most frequent remarks made by students and adults alike is ‘When and why am I ever going to use this sort of mathematics?’. The first step towards understanding this is to think about how science and technology has progressed and transformed the way we live, especially during the last century. The applications of math is probably the most convincing reason for most people. Yet, math isn’t just a tool employed by science. It’s also a subject in and of itself. Although it can be abstract, it’s also precise.
The Need for Mathematical Thinking
Granted, the majority of people won’t ever use or need anything beyond arithmetic. Mathematics started a long time ago. Many historical civilizations including Greece, China, Egypt and India explored the nature of mathematics and found applications for them.
For example, Pascal’s Triangle was discovered in China in 1261, when Yang Hui wrote it out up to a depth of six. In India, the number zero was introduced into the number system, making great contributions towards arithmetic and algebra. The Indians also made advances in trigonometry, where they explored various ratios and properties of the triangle. In Greece, perhaps the most famous theorem of all was formalized by Pythagorus.
In the modern society we live in, we employ, often indirectly, the services of architects, engineers, computer programmers, physicists, financial analysts, economists, geologists, statisticians, weather forecasters, aircraft designers, bookmakers, etc. and all of these fields rely on different aspects of maths as the primary tool of analysis. Even seemingly unrelated subjects such as the visual arts and music can be explored and dissected mathematically. So too can many aspects of nature, society and human & group behavior.
There’s no substitute for interest. Math should be exciting. A …» Read more