Why Study Math?

Math is everywhere! Don’t believe me? Read on for some examples of math in nature.

Bees, masters of geometry, use hexagons to build their honeycombs. The Fibonacci sequence, a famous sequence of numbers in mathematics, is found throughout nature: in pinecones, seashells, trees, flowers, and leaves.

The number pi can also be observed all around us. Pi is a cool number with many unique properties. Pi is approximately 3.14, but in reality it is greater than 3.14, with an infinite string of numbers after the decimal point. Because pi is, in reality, an infinitely long number, it is expressed as the Greek letter pi (π). It cannot be expressed as a fraction; numbers that cannot be expressed as fractions are said to be irrational. Pi is also transcendental, which means that it is non-algebraic; this means that pi cannot be the solution of single-variable polynomial equation whose coefficients are all integers. (By definition, all transcendental numbers are also irrational.)

The number pi can be observed in the shapes of rivers. The ratio of a river’s length to the distance from the source to its mouth is called the “meandering ratio.” The average meandering ratio of rivers approaches the number pi. It makes sense that the average meandering ratio of rivers approaches pi, because rivers tend to bend into loops, which are circular in nature. The ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is also equal to pi.

Now that you know more about pi and about how math governs nature, don’t you feel that you have a greater command over the mathematical laws of the universe? It can be empowering to learn about mathematical principles because it can help make sense of a world that, oftentimes, does not make much sense.

  1. Math can make you more popular. Before you start to disagree with me, think about how great it is to go to dinner with a friend who can quickly divide a check in their mind to determine how much each person needs to pay to split the bill. Your knowledge of fractions can also help you divide a pizza among a few people. While math is popularly the realm of nerds, your ability to avoid awkward confusion and silence as you and your friends try to divide a pizza or a dinner bill is truly a valuable skill. Be known as the cool (yes, I said cool) person that knows how to do mental math quickly!
  2. Math can help you shop a good sale. Not only will your quick mental arithmetic skills help you become known as the smart person who everyone appreciates when the waiter brings the check to your table, your math skills can also help you shop. Knowledge of percentages and how to calculate them quickly can help you save time when shopping at a sale at the mall – for example, to quickly calculate a discounted price, or to determine whether you’ve been correctly charged when paying for a shirt at the store. You don’t need a Ph.D. in math to develop some quick mental arithmetic skills; they can help you in these and other areas of your life in the long run.

Tip: use the 10 rule while sale-shopping. If you want to brush up on your math skills to be a better bargain-hunter, remember this rule: to subtract 10 from a price, you can just move the decimal place to the left by one digit. Take, for example, a shirt that has a price of $25.00 and is on sale for an additional 20 off. You can move the decimal over to the left by one digit to calculate 10 off – $2.50. Since 20 off is 2 x 10 off, you can quickly multiply $2.50 x 2 to get the discount amount – $5.00. Subtract the discount amount from the original price of the shirt: $25.00 – $5.00 = $20.00. You can use the 10 rule to quickly calculate 10 of the price and multiply it by a factor that can help you estimate price discounts quickly.

Math skills can be pretty helpful!

  1. Math is the universal language. Sure, it’s mostly equations, numbers, and some Greek letters, but math is understood the same virtually all over the world (and who knows, maybe all over the universe)! A math equation doesn’t need to be translated to another language to be understood by someone on the other side of the planet. A mathematical law doesn’t change because someone has a different religion than you or speaks a different language from you. 2 + 2 = 4 in every single place on planet Earth. Pretty cool! The universality of math is one of the many things that makes it such a powerful tool and, indeed, essential life skill.

In summary, math is not only important for success in life; it is all around us. The laws of mathematics are evident throughout the world, including in nature, and the problem-solving skills obtained from completing math homework can help us tackle problems in other areas of life. While many may complain that math is boring or complicated, the truth is that a life devoid of math means that we go around experiencing the world on a much less interesting level than we could.