THE IMPORTANCE OF MATHEMATICS
DEEPAK GANGADHARAN P
Former Mathematics Teacher
Understanding Mathematics is key to understanding the world around us. Mathematical thinking is important for all members of modern society as a habit of mind for its use in the work place, business and finance; and for personal decision-making; mathematics is fundamental to national prosperity in providing tools for understanding science, engineering, technology and economics, the environment and development. It is essential in public decision- making and for participation in the knowledge economy. Many life stages and skills require a solid grasp of mathematics, from entering university to balancing a household budget, applying for a home loan, or assessing a possible business opportunity.
Improving your child’s confidence in mathematics means giving them the best opportunity for a successful career. Mathematics equips pupils with uniquely powerful ways to describe, analyse and change the world. It can stimulate moments of pleasure and wonder for all pupils when they solve a problem for the first time, discover a more elegant solution, or notice hidden connections. Pupils who are functional in mathematics and financially capable are able to think independently in applied and abstract ways, and can reason, solve problems and assess risk.
Mathematics is a creative discipline. The language of mathematics is international. Mathematics is the queen of science and the language of nature. The subject transcends cultural boundaries and its importance is universally recognized. Mathematics has developed over time as a means of solving problems and also for its own sake. Its importance should be clear to any reasonable person. It is easy however to diminish the value of certain areas of research because they are currently thought as having little practical use. Evolutionary needs brought our minds to prefer knowledge that can be employed for the solution of specific problems in the real world, rather than deeply abstract ones. It is an understandable and even excusable fallacy that there are useful fields of math and useless ones, based on the perception of their applied or theoretical nature. But it’s still a misconception.
The present state of knowledge of the world is not perfect, and will increase if knowledge of maths increases. In primary school, we learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fraction, ………..with these, we can do many commercial arithmetics. A person with no such maths knowledge running a business is not able to calculate a single invoice!
In secondary school, one learns more maths like geometry, algebra, trigonometry, ……… with these, one may calculate say the distance from the shore of the ship he is sailing, if he knows the height of the light house and the angle. So one who doesn’t know trigonometry / geometry can’t sail a ship better. When one begins to learn calculus, one’s ability to calculus increases further, for example he is able to calculate the range of projectile and knows that if he aims at 450 elevation, the projectile will reach the farthest. With elementary calculus one can also calculate the escape velocity, the minimum velocity that a rocket must reach in order to escape from Earth’s gravitational field and reach outward.
If you have built yourself a solid foundation in maths, then for all branches of engineering / physics such as ship-building, aeronautical engineering, civil, electric and electronic engineering, …….you only need to study things pertaining to that but not its maths. Your knowledge of maths will help you a lot in mastering such knowledge, and you can learn much faster and more effective than one whose maths foundation is shaky. Not only in engineering but also in your knowledge of ‘Ordinary differential equations’, or ‘Dynamical systems’, which give you insight into system dynamics, will enable you to know what the economists are talking about, and form better judgements.
Source: Arutha (60th Anniversary Magazine of Kumundhoo School, 2008)