Real World Applications of Math

There are some types of math that are applicable to the real world, and some that aren’t. That’s why a person can spend their entire mathematical career on theoretical maths, and a different person can spend all that time on applied maths. Therefore it’s hard to figure out whether ‘math is applicable in the real world’.

On one hand math is intrinsic in what we do, even before we knew what math was we started counting, math existed before we created it. Math arises from the world naturally, and as such there are naturally a lot of applications of it. When we go to more abstract concepts it becomes less clear as to how they can be applied in the real world but maybe we’ll find a way they can be applied in the future. We get so caught up in notation we forget that math is very intrinsic to human nature and our world. In natural sciences we can use math to model everything. Because math arises from nature and nature has those mathematical patterns we can make use of those and apply them to different aspects of nature that may not seem mathematical. Part of the reason it may seem that some math doesn’t have practical applications is that the advancement of human mathematical development is very far ahead of technology and sciences. For example computer scientists use a lot of the factorization theorums first developed by Euclid who is long dead. The fact is that when Euclid formulated these theorums he didn’t know they would have such far reaching consequences, he had no idea what a computer is. That shows how many application math can have not just now, but far into the future. Maybe our ideas of research in modular theory, like solving for Fermat’s last theorum could potentially have far reaching consequences in modeling our world and certain things in the future of this world. This shows how math has many applications not only in the present, but also in things we haven’t even thought of. Even things that don’t seem to have applications in the real world may have applications in the future. In addition, it doesn’t necessarily need to have practical applications in that sense as math can help you develop your mental faculties, which can be applicable in may different things.

However there’s always the argument that math is a social construct and isn’t inherent on the world. In that sense, math isn’t real and can’t truly be applied to the real world. Math is perfect and the real world is not. Sometimes math can have models for things but they tend not to be perfect. That’s why uncertainties are so important and common in math. A lot of science is math, and in things like theoretical physics, it may be all math. In that sense, math is used to solve questions in physics, but it can’t be tested in the real world as of yet, so there’s no way of knowing whether certain maths are applicable. That’s why we can’t prove string theory. In a lot of math, data is required, but it’s never enough to have a full truth.

Overall, I think that if certain areas of math don’t seem to have applications in the real world, they may in the future, and that’s why I can’t say that math does or doesn’t have real-world applications with absolute certainty.

The Mathematical Method

THIS PART IS KIND OF A RANT, NO NEED TO READ, JUST STUFF I DIDN’T SAY IN CLASS                     (feel free to stumble through my rant if you want to though)

We’re supposed to describe the ‘Mathematical Method’, but I’m not even sure what math is. There’s a part of me that thinks that it’s simply a social construct. One could counter that thought rather easily, because if you thought about math in an extremely one dimensional fashion, math exists, numbers work, and they repeat. Therefore math can’t be a social construct because it exists and developed separately in different cultures. However, we only experience the world in three dimensions, four if you count time, or more because I’m not exactly smart. The thing is, we don’t really understand our world, and it could all be coincidence that math works for us the way it does. That does mean it’s right or true. We could learn one more simple thing about the world, we could learn something about the way math works considering higher dimensions, and our entire system of math going down to one plus one could be wrong.

In class we discussed how in math, things can be proven mathematically and physically. However, we had an extremely flawed discussion about it that really annoyed me. We discussed the idea that triangles can have different sums of angles based on the shape of the plane they’re on. For example, we discussed triangles on spheres. I think the problem was that the people in the class didn’t understand that mathematically, spheres are two-dimensional objects, balls are the ones that are three-dimensional. Someone in class used the idea that if you cut out a triangular piece of pie crust from a curved pie, it’s a three dimensional object and therefore not a triangle, and rather a prism. Therefore, continually proving that the sum of angles on all triangles is 180 degrees? That got me extremely frustrated but I’ve been working on holding my tongue. Anyways, the entire basis of that argument is wrong because the pie crust is three-dimensional, not two dimensional. Also, the idea that a plane must be perfectly flat is kind of frustrating. However, this was a good introduction into the idea of whether there are mathematical ideas that can’t be proven physically, only mathematically.


I guess the mathematical method is Euclidean logic, as in the seven books of Euclid that Lincoln took off five years to read and ponder. Based on that assumption (I’m using Euclidean logic here), the mathematical method is the use of known facts, to extrapolate new facts. For example, I know the sky is blue, because my mother told me so, therefore, anything that looks like the sky is also blue. It’s annoying that I never got to study logic in math class in school, we should really put it into the curriculum. However, I still use this in school, it’s how we learn every single subject. Take science, if mixing water and acid results in an exothermic reaction, and I know that exothermic reactions give off energy. We constantly learn things, and put them together to realize new things. In a way, that’s all learning is, and therefore, everything is the mathematical method.

In that way, one could say that the scientific method, is part of the mathematical method. In the way that people argue the natural sciences are branches of math, simply with dimensions, the scientific method is a branch of the mathematical method. The scientific method involved the use of prior knowledge to gain further knowledge. However, at its’ very base the mathematical method doesn’t have an empirical element. Whereas is science, you test theories, making science seem very different than math, and in my opinion, much less concrete. Because of the empirical nature of science, the use of the scientific method involves degrees of certainty, whereas math doesn’t. However, I’m not completely sure where the line between science and math is. Depending on your definition of math, it does have degrees of certainty. In fact the mathematical method could also be something within the scientific method. Often times you have prior knowledge on a subject (knowledge + observation), which leads to a question, which leads to an experiment, data collection, and conclusion. Math also has all of these elements, except the experiment part is usually the process of solving an equation, and the data and conclusion are the answers. That mostly assumes that math is equations and it’s definitely more than that. Still, this illustrates the fact that math and science are so intertwined it’d be impossible to find a proper difference for “strengths and weaknesses”.

The “strengths and weaknesses” of the mathematical and scientific methods boil down to one main thing, truth. They both attempt to find truth in slightly different ways. One could say that the mathematical method is flawed because it makes assumptions, such as “the sky is blue”. However, the scientific method also makes assumptions, if you’re testing the density of two different balls, you don’t question whether they’re balls, or that they’re what you’re actually measuring. In that sense, they’re equal. One could argue that a strength of the scientific method is trials, however it can never find a perfect truth, and it’s always based off of flawed fact, just like the mathematical method. On the other hand, a strength of the mathematical method is that it doesn’t have degrees of certainty and therefore can have perfect truths if you don’t take into account the degrees of certainty of the original truths.

My Culturama MC experience (LO5)

One day, when I was in class, Dhir asked me to MC for Culturama and I agreed to. Thus started a whirlwind of Culturama madness. One day I was a regular civilian, minding my business, the next I was receiving a barrage of emails with information on who the other MC would be, the needs for the script, and regular updates on new things that the script needed to be. I wasn’t sure how to do it, but Vivian and I were given a deadline to write the script by. Learning outcome five is to “Demonstrate the skills and recognise the benefits of working collaboratively”. We started working together, but from computers in completely separate locations. This gave me a unique view on the benefits and challenges of collaboration. Maybe it wasn’t the best form of collaboration, but we also discussed it at school.

I began to realize that collaboration could decrease workload if done well, enrich the product, and make me learn new ways of thinking about and doing things. I didn’t have to write half the script, which decreased my stress levels a lot. I got feedback on what I wrote, which made me think more about what I wrote and improve it. I also got a bit of a peek into Vivian’s mind and the different ways we could write the script. I had approached it from a very formal and informative standpoint, but Vivian reminded me that scripts can be funny too. Unfortunately, this initial collaboration was a double-edged sword. I didn’t get to write half the script, meaning I had less control over it, I got some negative feedback on things that I still think might’ve worked well, and part of me feels like I got forced into doing a cheesy script. However, it wasn’t only two of us who had an input. In this entire process we were getting emails from a myriad of people who all wanted different things, which really complicated the process, and I think was bad for the script.

When is a joke not a joke?

Are there any topics which should never be joked about?

I’m not sure because sometimes people joke about things in front of people they shouldn’t. It can normalize racist or offensive thoughts to some of the listeners. Different things are offense to different people. We have to e really careful when we make those types of jokes if you say them in front of people who can be offended by them it’s also your fault.

Does the audience or the content off a joke determine whether it’s appropriate or not?

I think that when you make a joke you have to be careful about who you say it in front of. For example, you can make offensive jokes with your friends, but it isn’t offensive because you’re with friends. However, you can’t make those jokes in front of different people because then it becomes offensive. Certain societies are very homogenous, and that means when people make racist jokes, it may not seem racist, but it may be because it normalizes racist thoughts and is not checked by people of those races. Sometimes people think racial slurs about themselves are ok, and their friends make those jokes, and I think that makes it not as bad.

Can bullying ever be funny?

Miriam doesn’t think bullying can every be funny. I know that my friends kind of fake/real bully me and I find it funny. It’s very offensive, and sometimes it doesn’t always feel good, but joking bullying is only funny with your friends. With these things you really need to check yourself to make sure the person’s okay with it. Miriam tries not to be mean to people because she doesn’t like it when people are mean to her. When you’re with your friends it’s not really bullying. You need to check that the people you’re making these jokes about are okay with it, in which case it isn’t really bullying. Therefore, true bullying can never be funny or okay.

“Joking is part of the healing process” in relation to tragic events. Do you agree?

I think that for me joking is part of the healing process. Like I’ve been really hurt at times and I like making jokes about it. However, making jokes about something that has hurt others or groups of people can be harder to decide whether it’s wrong. You want to be really careful about offending people with stuff like this. Joking about tragedy can help you feel better, but you need to be careful about who you’re hurting. You don’t want to trigger people or something.



The End of Cross Country (LO2)

There was only one season of Cross Country, but I went to two practices every week, and I ended up going to the ACSIS meet on the 31st of October. I did not place well in the race, but it was very encouraging because I had finished the five kilometers and I accomplished a lot. I know that I improved during the season, and I really challenged myself with continual repetitive activity. In addition, the girls team got second place, and that was very encouraging, because while I may not have contributed to the score, I still felt like I was part of something. The second learning outcome for CAS is to “Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process.”. I think the first part of this post effectively demonstrates the challenges, but what I have yet to mention is the skills. For me this was a lot harder to think about. For a while I didn’t think I had developed any skills. Then, I realized that I developed social skills, I have new friends that I gained through cross country. I also gained some very practical skills, such as ways to exercise better to achieve desired outcomes, like better aerobic capacity. I also learned methods of warming up and diminishing the effects of lactic acid and fatigue after a hard training session.

Fine Motor Skills and Games with Sundac (LO3)

Walking into this service I hadn’t been sure what to expect. I had experienced service with the elderly and the sick before, and while that is different from working with mentally disabled people, it has many similarities. I knew that part of the reason I chose this service was that I knew it would allow us to enrich our relationships with service partners through a wide variety of interesting activities. I knew we would eventually leave the school and try to do things all around Bedok. I had wanted to really help people develop social skills or at least provide a positive experience.

I helped plan the first session where we interacted with our service partners. It was hard for the three of us who volunteered to run this session, because we weren’t sure what to expect. However, we came up with the idea of eating lunch with the service partners, and then doing some games with them. We knew that we had to have lunch first because given the time they came, the first half of the session would be when the cafeteria is most empty. Since we had never met our partners, and they had never met us, we had the idea to get name cards for each person, so that we could all see what each others names were. We did all of these things because we had a bit of a three point strategy for planning this session. First, identify the needs of the session. That was actually rather difficult. We had to reflect on how we wanted to help our service partners. We came to the conclusion that the main purpose of the first session would be ice breakers and getting to know each other. That was the reason for the name tag activity. Second, we needed to identify the plausibility of all our plans. One of the earlier ideas we had was to play tag with our service partners in a gym. We then realized that this would probably not be safe given that not all of them are very young or able to do things like play tag. Thirdly, we needed to make sure we could make it happen. We went to the service office, and they let us into the store cupboard so that we could look at the supplies and see what things we could use. That gave way to the idea of using a giant parachute and balls. The activities that we did with them went rather well. Overall, I’d say that session was a success as an icebreaker.

Having been part of the service for several sessions, I now know that my original expectations were a bit excessive. Yes, we do interact with our service partners, but right now we’re still getting to know them. Maybe at some point in the year we’ll change our meeting place, but not yet. In addition, part of me feels very discouraged because we haven’t made a lot of progress with them. With several of the activities some of our service partners have become annoyed, bored, or frustrated. However, some of our activities with them have been going well. Unfortunately we haven’t been very successful with our communication, as that is something which many of our service partners find very difficult. We haven’t learned that much about their interests and personalities, and while we know who they are, I’m not sure they’ve started recognizing us yet. I’m not completely sure how our service and interaction with them actually constitutes a service, and whether it’s successful in helping them integrate with society and work on their motor and social skills. Still, there’s a year to go and I have hope.

Skip to toolbar