Saturday, December 11, 2010

Why is Math Important? Because the language of mathematics plays a vital role in our evolution (article and videos #137 and #138)

I want to address one of the most frequent questions that has come my way over the years, it being: “Why is math important?

Upon going through countless iterations, the shortest and simplest answer that I can provide to this question, is that math is important because it is a vital step in our evolution. The creation and utilization of this language is the reason why we have been able to evolve to the state that we are in: personally, socially, and culturally.

It is widely accepted that numeracy, “the ability to reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts”, is an innate human ability - we’re hardwired for it. Thus, the development of the language of mathematics based on certain definitions and axioms, self-evident truths, may they be complete and consistent or not, was the only logical step in our evolution.

The prominent theory as to the reasons why written languages came to be is that they were developed for the purposes of accurate bookkeeping, economic necessity, and as a means for us to record important events. In essence, once we had acquired enough knowledge that could not accurately be conveyed verbally, we developed symbols, and later on structured languages, syntax, to record and pass on that information. Mathematics was not only an integral part of this, but also an end product.

As with other languages, mathematics was developed to share information and as a means for us to describe and solve real world problems. Slowly, the language maturedthrough the use of abstraction and logical reasoning” and in the last few hundred years has evolved to what it is today, thanks, in large part, to Franciscus Vieta and Leonhard Euler.

At present, mathematics is by far the most efficient language that we have been able to develop to seek and analyze patterns, to optimize our ability to create, and to discuss the laws governing our universe, in the process, helping us answer some of our most fundamental questions. Math is, ultimately, the most concise form of communication we have to understand who we are, where we are, and what we are capable of.

Building Gods (Rough Cut)

Without mathematics we would behave and interact with the world in a completely different manner than we do today. The creation of notations and the formalization of algebra paved the way for us to better understand and interact with the world we inhabit.

Once the syntax for this language was developed, through rigorous analysis we were able to explore the intricacies of what was being revealed. From the significance of prime numbers in our every day lives, to the discovery of the quantization of information, to the revelations that large parts of the universe are invisible to our principal senses. It is mainly due to the innovations brought about through the use of mathematics, may it be in the development of conjectures or the fabrication of instruments, that we are aware of so much, from the very large to the very small.

Marcus du Sautoy: Symmetry, reality's riddle

Math forms the fabric of our current civilization, from economics and politics to what we consume and possess. You don’t believe it? Take a look around you. Aside from the natural ecosystem, almost everything that you see has one thing in common, it was made, raised, grown, or delivered with the use of mathematics as a primary tool. The monitor or piece of paper that you are reading this on, the food you may be consuming, the pictures on your desk, the light in your room, your computer, your clothes, your shoes, your phone, your job, your home, your car and the roads you drive it on, your beverage and the cup you’re drinking it from, all of it, is because of mathematics. Without it, we would not have these luxuries, comforts, freedoms, or the prospect of equality or sustainability.

The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See (part 1 of 8)

Full Lecture

One crucial point to note, literacy in the language of mathematics was not as important in the past as it is today, or as vital as it will be for the future. Technology and the inevitabilities and necessities of life are forcing every aspect of our lives to be optimized, and the best way that we know of to achieve this task is through mathematics.

So why is math important? Because it encompasses every aspect of our lives and without it, we would not be who we are, we will not progress, and we will not realize our full potential, and thus, have no future: personally, socially, or culturally.

Related video:

Why is Math Important? Part 1: Five Reasons Why Math is Important (137)

  • Reason #1: Life can be brutal. Knowing math may help you out through those moments.
  • Reason #2: Math can help you be the best at what you want to be the best at.
  • Reason #3: Willingly being illiterate in the most important language in the world is really stupid.
  • Reason #4: Knowing math can help you be financially secure.
  • Reason #5: Being intelligent, in general, makes you attractive.

Why is Math Important? Part 2: Because it's part of evolution, part of what makes us human (Math IIIb #138)