Don’t worry too much about your difficulties in Mathematics; I can assure you that mine are still greater.
– Albert Einstein
Like many of you, I was not exactly a big fan of Mathematics back in school. My struggle with the subject ranged from just about manageable to downright horrendous. It only worsened with time. I wasn’t all that bad at the subject but I harboured an irrational fear of numbers which compounded over time (yes, there’s a mathematics joke there). A few years ago, I was actually one of those students who questioned the point of studying mathematics!
Slowly but surely, I’ve come to realize that mathematics is omnipresent. Everything around us is bound by mathematical concepts.
A few years of reading Quora and Reddit have impressed upon me with ideas like the Formulae that changed the world or the real life application of math. These ideas range from the complicated algorithms behind dating websites to determining the path that you take in a retail store and optimize display racks.
While I may not understand the abstract principles behind it, I can appreciate the importance of having learnt it and its application in our daily lives. Who would have thought that our powers of reasoning, creativity, spatial and thinking, problem-solving ability were all developed as a result of these exasperating mathematics concepts.
In my daily life, as a marketing specialist I largely rely on understanding and validating behavioural patterns that a consumer exhibits and the best way to do that is through the tool of mathematics.
The world is full of patterns and structures – whether it is the spiral that is characteristic of a snail’s shell, a spider’s web, a beehives’ hexagonal pattern or our planes in the sky. Mathematics as I see it, is a gateway to understanding and exploring their value. From counting on our fingers to searching for X is what fostered our problem solving ability and helped make our mind analytically abled, hence today we move at Godspeed when it comes to splitting a bill, crunching numbers for a business case or creating the next big technological revolution!
Back in high school I always imagined math as an insurmountable peak – I was never going to be amazing at it so what was the point of trying?
What I never realized was that it’s okay to not be amazing at the subject, but to understand enough of it. Finding a teacher who can impress upon you the underlying logic of the domain and caters to your learning style is the best way to avoid getting intimidated by the subject.
As Ishigami, the math teacher in “The Devotion of Suspect X” describes it,
High school mathematics is the tip of the iceberg – a doorway into the world, should you chose to walk through it; but you should know where the door is.
Even though the guy’s a fictional murderer, for all his faults I think he got this right!