Learning Math FormulasDate: 02/22/2001 at 12:41:40 From: Jessie Smith Subject: Math formulas Dear Dr. Math, Why are math formulas important? From, Jessie Date: 02/22/2001 at 15:58:47 From: Doctor Ian Subject: Re: Math formulas Hi Jessie, If you want to know why it's important for people to figure them out in the first place, it's because once you've got a formula to describe something in the world, you can control it, or at least predict what's going to happen. For example, if you can find a formula to describe the way that electrons move around in copper wire, you can use that knowledge to design electric lights, and appliances, and CD players, and so on. Once you have a formula to describe the way that gasoline burns in oxygen, you can use that knowledge to design motors, and electric generators, and so on. Once you have a formula to describe the cost of producing and selling an arbitrary number of waxahachies, you can decide how much to charge for them in order to make a profit; and you can predict, for any number of projected sales, how much money you'll make. And so on, and so on, and so on. Commercial pilots do most of their training in flight simulators, because if they make a mistake, they don't crash a real plane, or kill any real people. Well, equations are like flight simulators. They let you try out all kinds of weird ideas without actually risking lives or property. If you want to know why it's important for people to remember formulas, it's purely to save time. For example, you don't _have_ to remember your phone number. You could write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in your pocket for whenever you want to look it up... but if you use it a lot, that would waste a lot of time, so it's easier to just remember it. Math formulas are the same way. If you're going to be working with right triangles a lot, it just takes too long to look up the Pythagorean theorem every time you want to use it - which, in some situations, will be about every 15 seconds. It's easier just to remember it. I hope this helps. Write back if you'd like to talk about this some more, or if you have any other questions. - Doctor Ian, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ |
Search the Dr. Math Library: |
[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]
Ask Dr. Math^{TM}
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.
http://mathforum.org/dr.math/