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Why do we need to learn math?There are actually thousands of different jobs that require some knowledge of mathematics. Here are more than 30 firsthand accounts from Mathematicians at Work telling what some college math majors are doing, from an Air Traffic Control Systems Analyst and a Lawyer to a Data Capture Facility Troubleshooter on the Hubble space telescope. Exactly How Is Math Used In Technology?, from the Mathematics Department of the British Columbia Institute of Technology, provides examples of math uses for biomedical engineering, food technology, building technology, chemical sciences, civil and structural engineering, graphics and computeraided drawing (CAD), electronics, environmental health, mechanical engineering, mining technology, nuclear medicine, occupational health, petroleum technology, prosthetics, forestry and wildlife, robotics, and surveying. Examining How Mathematics is Used in the Workplace, by Annie and John Selden for the Mathematical Association of America's Teaching and Learning Research Sampler, provides abstracts of studies on how much mathematics is used in various occupations: Mathematics in Automobile Production; Proportional Reasoning by Nurses; Modeling the Mathematics of Banking; Mathematical Models as Seen by Biologists; and How do Scientists Interpret Graphs? From the Dr. Math Archives
From the Math Forum's Key Issues in MathematicsWhy should students take mathematics courses?
From the emailbag...Dear Dr. Math, Why is math one of the most important subjects that we study in school?  Thanks, Katie Hi Katie, Probably because it is used in so many other subjects. There are uses of mathematics in all the "hard" sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics; the "soft" sciences, such as economics, psychology, and sociology; engineering fields, such as civil, mechanical, and industrial engineering; and technological fields such as computers, rockets, and communications. There are even uses in the arts, such as sculpture, drawing, and music. In addition, anything which uses a computer uses mathematics, and you probably are aware of how many things that is! Furthermore, learning mathematics forces one to learn how to think very logically and to solve problems using that skill. It also teaches one to be precise in thoughts and words. Practice doing that is obviously very useful in many different areas of life.  Doctor Rob, The Math Forum Dear Dr. Math, In algebra we are dealing with rates of change. What is the point of using this? What kind of jobs need algebra?  Derek Dear Derek, Rate of change comes up a lot in physics. How fast is something moving? The answer is the rate of change with respect to time of its distance from a reference point. If my variable rate mortgage goes up 1 percent, how will that affect my mortgage payment? The answer is a rate of change. Many other similar situations could be quoted to you. Rate of change really is often found in practical, everyday problems. And any kind of technical job, from computer programmer to traffic engineer to tax accountant, involves some algebra  even carpentry sometimes uses it! Many of these jobs pay well and are very enjoyable.  Doctor Rob, The Math Forum Dear Dr. Math, I've asked people over and over again what science has to do with math. I think it has to do with measurement.  Thank you, Tawny. Hi, Tawny! Great question. I love it when people really think about what is going on. Measurement is certainly a major contribution of math to the many areas of science. Not just length measurements, either, but also time, velocity, quanitity, volume, and even probability. Math helps scientists and engineers use measurements they have made on certain areas of their systems to calculate other measurements they have not made but want to know. In some cases the measurements that are desired could not be made any other way; for instance, the speed of light was first calculated by bouncing light across a great distance and back while measuring the time it took. The distance divided by the time gave the speed of light. Math is also used in science to prove formulas from the basic concepts of how our universe works (we call these first principles). This is a very important part of it to me, as that is what I do. I take some basic principles about a problem I want to solve, design a math model that fits the description, and then try to prove some property I would like to use from the model. This type of scientific work is called theoretical, and the results from it are then used by other scientist and engineers in what we consider applied sciences. Math has often been referred to as the language of science, as everything we do involves math, from the formulas we use to model the world, to the trials and measurements we use to test and apply our models. I hope this has helped to explain the connection. Math is critical to science, so if you are interested in becoming a scientist or engineer then I really encourage you to keep studying your math. Even if you aren't thinking of going into science or engineering, math is heavily used in business, economics, social studies, communication, etc. In reality math is the basic language of the world, for everyone uses math in most everything they do (often without realizing it). Math can be a great friend to you in whatever you want to do, so keep up the good work.  Doctor Keith, The Math Forum Dear Dr. Math, When would you use Pythagorean Theorem in a real life job? Hi 
There are lots of times you might need to know! Heck, even if you don't have a job and you sit around and watch TV all day, you need to know. For instance, if you're going to buy a TV you need to know it: let's say you're looking for the biggest TV that will fit on your TV table, which is 15 inches wide. But TV screens aren't measured by how wide they are, they're measured by the diagonal distance across the screen. Ding! Pythagorean theorem! Some examples of jobs that use the Pythagorean theorem every day are engineers (bridges and buildings are essentially made of lots of triangles  it makes them strong), pilots and navigators (to figure out distances and headings), football players ("should I run straight up the field, or diagonally?"), and musicians (well, perhaps I can't think of a way musicians use it, but they do use other contributions that Pythagoras made to music  scales and tuning).  Doctor Ken, The Math Forum

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