FEATURE 15 December 2012

Mathematics in Daily Life

Thane Education - elearningWaxing eloquently on the basic importance of Mathematics in human life, Roger Bacon (1214-1294), an English Franciscan friar, philosopher, scientist and scholar of the 13th century, once stated: "Neglect of mathematics works injury to all knowledge, since he who is ignorant of it cannot know the other sciences or the things of the world." And the ingenuity of his statement is there before us to see, in this Internet era.

However, mathematics, in itself, has all the ingredients that make it a universal language shared by all human beings irrespective of culture, religion, or gender. Pi is always 3.14159 regardless of where we are. Similarly, the elemental mathematical processes (like addition, subtraction, etc.) never get changed due to a change in the location or for any other reason whatsoever. These all say about the close intertwining of mathematics in our daily life.

At a time when even a common man is being increasingly dependent upon the application of science and technology in the day-to-day activities of life, the role of mathematics has undoubtedly been redefined. Right from getting up in early hours of the day to the ringing of an alarm, to wait for the counts of whistles of the cooker, to exchange currency at a ticket outlet while availing a public conveyance, almost every next moment we do the simple calculations at the back of our mind. Of course, these are all done pretty unconsciously without a thought being spared for the use of mathematics on all such occasions.

Reading time on a watch, rounding a date on a calendar, checking up the mileage of your car, halting at the filling station, attending to a roll call at school, getting scores in the class exams, scoring in a game, betting on a horse race, preparing a recipe in the kitchen, - the list is just endless if one goes on to note down the situations when our computational skill, or more specifically, simple mathematics comes to play a role. It scares us to certain extent to think of a life without any knowledge of calculation or computation, or in other words mathematics. In many a case, lack of a formal education hardly affects gaining a relative mastery in these computational skills which are so essential in our daily life.

At a psychological level, exposure to mathematics helps in developing an analytic mind and assists in better organization of ideas and accurate expression of thoughts. At a more general level, far away from dealing with the higher mathematical concepts, the importance of mathematics for a common man is underpinned whenever he visits banks, shopping malls, railways, post offices, insurance companies, or deals with transport, business transactions, imports and exports, trade and commerce, and the ilk. Even when we think of role of mathematics in our recreational activities, we surprisingly have a list that runs quite long: video games, computer games, puzzles, riddles, and so on.

It ensues from the above discussion that a modern life style seems completely handicapped and at times, highly improbable, in the absence of mathematics. For, unless we are well versed in the language of numbers, we would find it difficult to reach at important decisions and perform everyday tasks. Be it to shop wisely, or buy the right insurance, or refashion a home within a budget, knowledge of mathematics holds the key, and hence, barely necessary.

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