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Q&A #582


More about math

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From: Marielouise (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Sep 21, 1998 at 21:39:58
Subject: Re: More about math

Mike, think of the grocery or supermarket system.  The store sells thousands
of items.  There is an inventory kept on all of the items.  When the
inventory is low, the supplies have to be replenished.  When the inventory
does not sell quickly enough someone has to decide to keep it or to drop it
and replace it with another brand or variety.

People work in the store.  They have to be paid.  Someone keeps the payroll,
computes the taxes, issues paychecks.

One of the most useful mathematical inventions is the UPC code or Universal
Product code.  This code was devised by researchers at IBM.  Using a laser
scanner a numerical code for each item in the store can be determined.   The
mathematics involved in the code are very interesting.   The entire subject
of codes is vast.

I once thought that ballet was the only occupation that didn't use
mathematics until I saw a computer program where dance steps were coded.
Today, the dance steps can be viewed by moving stick figures.  These figures
are all moved by computer coding.

Who was the first man who created mathematics?  This is a question for which
I do not have an answer.  However, many ancient peoples devised symbols to
designate numerical quantities.  It is believed that the zero came into being
when a number was copied from a Babylonian tablet onto an Egyptian papyrus.
On the tablet if there was no number in the column the column was empty.  The
empty square became a circle.

I would suggest that you go to a school or community library and look up a
book on the History of Mathematics.  I am not sure if you are a child or an
adult but I believe that you can  find one suitable to your age.
Encyclopedias also have excellent articles on mathematics.

 -Marielouise, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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