Have you ever considered just how much of an influence Maths has on our everyday lives?
No we're not talking about fractions or completing worksheets but maths in the form of logic and problem solving crop up constantly outside of the classroom. Mathematics is more a part of our everyday lives than many would think, and allows us to better understand the world around us.
The use of numbers and figures can be found everywhere, from cooking to medicine, to the media with their percentages and graphs. Here we'll shed light on a number of areas where maths is centre stage.
Our understanding of math and the constant desire to know more about everything in this world so that, today, the world as we know it would not be possible without maths.
Mathematics is an application of matter and contributes to all of our methodical and systematic behaviours.
It is Maths, for instance, that has brought order to the communities across this planet and prevented chaos and catastrophes. Many of our inherited human qualities are nurtured and developed by Maths theories, like our spatial awareness, our problem-solving skills, our power to reason (which involves calculated thinking) and even our creativity and communication.
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Why Is Maths Important?
Things that you wouldn't expect to bear any relation to Maths do in fact come down to an underlying need for mathematics and the structure it brings to our everyday lives.
Take shopping, cooking, buying a property, doing DIY, traveling, gambling, playing video games, driving and telling the time, for instance... none of these would be possible without the existence of Mathematics.
Furthermore, Maths everywhere when you consider the educational and professional worlds.
Maths is relevant to a wide variety of academic subjects on the GCSE course and A Level curriculum, which not only means that a poor understanding of maths can cause students to struggle in many other subjects but also that it could limit their further studies options as well as their employability when they come to think about career options.
Whether you aspire to study sociology, psychology, physics, biology or even economics, maths is held in high regard, and you will be called on solve various maths problems, as part of your work.
To learn maths is to open up a world of opportunity - now you see the importance of maths tutors and the impact they can have on your life!
A Brief History Of Maths
Since maths is a broad application of matter, rather than a discovery, we cannot credit one person with the invention of maths itself, however, we can take a look back at when maths started to play a role in the life of humans.
Unsurprisingly, evidence shows that this was pretty much the beginning of time as we know it! Even those living in prehistoric times had some understanding of maths concepts, records of which were found on many items, like bones, and wall carvings.
Markings would have shown that they used rational thinking when learning how to solve simple math problems like adding things up on a surface area.
The Star Garden states that:
"The Ishango bone is about 20,000 years old and has a series of notches carved into it in three columns. Patterns in these numbers may show that they were made by someone who understood addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and prime numbers."
They go on to say that:
"People understood geometry and algebra by about 2000 BCE [...] Around this time, both the Babylonians and Ancient Egyptians were aware of the number π (pi) the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. By about 1500 BCE, the Babylonians were also aware of Pythagoras' theorem, which shows how the lengths of the sides of right-angled triangles are related."
In their brief history of Maths, The Star Garden website adds that:
"Kepler was also inspired by Pythagoras, and believed that the motion of the planets produces music. He used mathematics to show that the planets orbit the Sun in ellipses and, by 1619, he was able to determine the time it takes each planet to orbit and their relative distances from the Sun.
In 1687, Newton published his law of universal gravitation. This was groundbreaking because it showed, not just that abstract mathematical principles, such as the newly invented calculus, could be applied to what we observe in nature, but that the laws responsible for the movement of the planets are also responsible for the movement of objects on Earth. Newton also believed that the universe could be understood as a mathematical object, and described God as "skilled in mechanics and geometry".
Newton's contemporary, Leibniz, discovered another link between mathematics and nature when he first considered the idea of fractals. [...] Twentieth-century mathematicians, such as French mathematician Gaston Julia and Polish-French-American mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, were inspired by Leibniz to create complicated fractals of their own.
By this time, quantum mechanics, and German-Swiss-American physicist Albert Einstein's theories of special and general relativity, had shown that nature obeys the laws of mathematics, even when this contradicts our common sense understanding of the world."
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What Careers Are Based on Mathematics?
If you still doubt the ubiquitous and essential role of mathematics in the professional world (and thus in our daily lives), be prepared to have your perspective changed.
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This science, inherited from antiquity, constitutes a common foundation for many professions.
Whether one works in formulating medicines, meteorology, designing medical imaging devices, using statistics, managing personal data with cryptography, or in the more abstract world of pure maths, the same language is used.
Arithmetic, algebra, complex numbers and probability are all elements of the grand discipline that is mathematics; one that shapes our everyday lives.
For example, astronomers searching for life on other planets, statisticians using maths revision to study population fluxes and accountants measuring trade balances of firms and countries: All share a common ground, studied during their mathematics education and honed with experience.
If this topic interests you, check out our article What to do after studying mathematics?
Whilst Maths opens up a variety of exciting and varied doors career-wise, the most common jobs for Maths graduates, however, are:
- investment manager
- investment banker
- retail banker
- data analyst
- data scientist
- researcher (maths)
- teacher (maths)
- computer engineer
If you're seeking a career in Finance, then some level of math qualification is required, but you may not necessarily need a degree.
Aside from the financial sector, there are industries such as engineering and information technology that can benefit from someone who is good with numbers.
For example, roles like defence and intelligence officer, statistician, operational researcher, academic mathematician, teacher of Maths in a primary or secondary school, or positions within the law, media, business or public sectors.
Some of your typical employers might be the NHS, the government, educational establishments, IT companies, a pharmaceutics company, engineering companies, insurance companies, marketing or market research companies, and banking and accountancy firms.
A Real Life Case Study: Olivia Tuck, Statistician
With thanks to Prospects, the no1 website for graduates, we can see how many students fared after their higher education in numerous fields. Below, we see how Olivia Tuck, a Maths masters degree graduate, got on finding work after university and her tips for students seeking a career using Maths.
"Olivia was keen to use her mathematics and statistics degree in the real world. "
She carried out work experience during all three of the summer breaks in her Masters degree before applying for a permanent role and being successful. Her team
"covers everything from experimental design, to data analysis and prediction modelling. [She meets] with customers to understand their requirements, [applies] the relevant statistical techniques and [writes] up [her] findings in reports for them."
Aside from seeling relevant work experience in the field, Olivia puts her position down to choosing the right degree for her career path.
She advises students not be put off studying Maths just because career advisors or university fairs indicate that you'll end up being an accountant or a teacher. She insists that you do plenty of your own research and to do so early so that you can plan ahead for graduate schemes and the like.
Since applying for jobs and work experience can be hard and very time-consuming, she also recommends asking your university careers department for help with setting up your CV and completing application forms.
In five years' time, ambitious and driven Olivia sees herself remaining in her team working on statistics, yet leading on statistics projects and providing superior support to other team members.
See more about Olivia and what it's like to be a statistician by visiting the website. You can also discover more case studies which might help to guide you on your own career path.
You can see what jobs are out there for maths enthusiasts by visiting a job website.
Why Is Maths Important In Professions?
Below is a recap of just some of the industries and related posts that you could be working in if you pursue Maths as a subject to a high degree.
Mathematics and the Study of the World
From the study of our solar system to the reproductive cycle of animals and the growth of plants, mathematics is very useful in understanding the world around us.
And yes, maths can even be used to solve puzzles!
Not all calculations are necessarily complicated: We can use complex functions or sequences as readily as simple methods, for example to mark and follow individuals in the study of populations and evolution.
Engineers test materials in order to design durable and safe structures, using calculations of the strength and density of materials.
In cartography, it's necessary to accurately measure angles and draw distances that will allow locations to be precisely represented. Such knowledge is used not only by the surveyor, but also by the treasure hunter looking for sunken wrecks, using instruments derived from a compass.
The price of food is calculated in relation to production and estimated demand. The predicted course of a pandemic is determined by studying the pathogen's rate of transmission. It's even useful for doing homework or revising for a maths exam! The list of uses is endless.
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In short, everything comes under the influence of maths, even the world of professional-level sport!
Even when it comes to the esoteric, maths has left its mark. Many mathematicians have sought hidden meaning in numbers, and predictive properties with numerology, not to mention the mysterious golden ratio found in nature as well as in extraordinary human constructions, like the pyramids.
There are also many maths equations that have changed the world!
How Can Basic Maths Skills Help In Everyday Life?
Percentages, a basic mathematical concept, can be used to calculate reductions and work out whether an offer is worth taking advantage of. For example, 20% off one product and a further 10% off another are not the same as a 30% reduction:
You spot a fantastic cardigan at £69. You benefit from a 20% discount, or £13.80 saved, (£55.20) and a further discount of 10% off the price, which is now £49.68. In the end, you get a total discount of £19,32: Not 30% off the initial price (which would have saved you £20.70).
Similarly, it can be worth calculating the price per kilo in 'buy one get one free' offers, to see whether you can make a saving.
Be careful, however, if such a product is prominently displayed, it might be overpriced relative to similar items - Yes, promotions are mainly there to get you to spend!
Say you have a steady job, and you want to take out a mortgage and buy a house. Percentages are used to analyse your level of debt, calculate a depreciation schedule and show repayments due over the lifetime of the loan. Tip: If your bank's rates are favourable, be sure to choose a fixed rate loan to avoid seeing monthly repayments move in the wrong direction over time.
Managing a budget is one of the inescapable responsibilities of any teenager or adult. By means of simple operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, you can understand your income and outgoings, and how much you have available to spend.
Planning on making a large purchase? The total cost over the long term can be calculated, taking into account probable income, thanks to maths.
Who ever said that maths was irrelevant in daily life?
And as an added bonus, maths is a great way to play the odds in poker and come out the winner!
Mathematics and Geometry in Your House
Let's talk geometry!
Imagine that you plan to build your own house. You would first calculate volumes and dimensions, and gradually bring your designs to life as 2D plans.
After completing construction, you would need to furnish the space. Here is how to carry out your project using geometry:
- Take an A3 sheet of graph paper
- Note the dimensions of the room to be furnished
- Take sheets of coloured paper and cut out shapes to represent the sofa, the dining room table, and so on.
- Play around with various configurations of furniture by moving the coloured boxes around, taking into account the passing spaces necessary to comfortably allow for movement
Sounds like maths games for kids? But what better way to learn maths!
Use of Mathematics in Health
Human life in its earliest developmental stage can be seen in-utero using ultrasound: When the fœtus is only slightly bigger than a bean, it can be visualised, and its heartbeat heard. Mathematics then comes into play in a child's health record, showing their estimated growth curve in relation to weight and height.
Had a bad fall? Medical imaging can be used to determine any fractures with an x-ray, developed using maths, or an MRI scan, which exists thanks to calculus.
This practical application of maths is used in oncology, to understand cell mutation and develop curative treatments that help save many lives.
In an effort to combat illness and injury, statisticians analyse the results of studies carried out using volunteers, in order to identify models for advancing research on new drugs.
Looking to find out whether your body mass index (BMI) is within the normal range?
All you have to do is perform the following simple calculation: BMI = Weight(kg) / Height(m)^2. Results in the normal range should be between 18.5 and 25.
Human beings have, with access to a growing body of knowledge, wrought great changes in the natural world. We have created new diseases that we must now attempt to cure, and caused widespread pollution, which we must now seek solutions in order to fight.
Through these few examples, we can see the extent of mathematics in our daily life, on individual, societal, planetary and galactic scales.
Isn't it fascinating, to see how the infinitely small can help us understand the infinitely great?
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