# What is Math, why do we study it?

## Why Do We Study Math?

We spend many years of our lives studying core subjects of mathematics, sciences and the humanities. In Singapore, that is 6 years of primary school, 4 years of secondary school and if one pursues continued education, an additional 2 to 3 years in tertiary institutions and 4 years in university. This brings us to a grand total of up to 17 years of education!

With 17 years of education it is paramount to question why we study each of these subjects, and indeed, are they important?

On a theoretical level, mathematics, often simply referred to as “math,” is a fundamental and abstract field of study that deals with numbers, quantities, patterns, structures, and the relationships between them. It is a universal language that helps us make sense of the world around us and solve a wide range of problems.

On a more practical level, making math a compulsory subject is a means of sustaining adequate knowledge and fundamentals for the next generation, so that a country can continue to operate within the 21st century world.

## Who Created Math

Mathematics, as a discipline, has evolved over thousands of years and is not attributed to a single individual or culture. Instead, it developed gradually through contributions from many ancient civilizations.

Ancient Sumerians (circa 3000 BC): The Sumerians, who lived in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), are among the earliest known users of mathematics. They developed a system of writing and numerical notation, including the use of a base-60 number system, which influenced the later development of mathematics in Babylonia.

Ancient Egyptians (circa 3000 BC): The ancient Egyptians developed a mathematical system primarily for practical purposes, such as measuring land, building structures, and calculating volumes. They used arithmetic, geometry, and algebraic techniques in their daily life.

Babylonians (circa 1900 BC): The Babylonians, who inherited mathematical knowledge from the Sumerians, made significant contributions to mathematics. They developed algorithms for solving mathematical problems, including quadratic equations, and created tables of values for trigonometric functions.

Ancient Greeks (circa 600 BC – 300 BC): Greek mathematicians like Euclid, Pythagoras, and Archimedes made profound contributions to geometry, number theory, and mathematics in general. Euclid’s “Elements” laid the foundation for axiomatic geometry, while Pythagoras’ theorem is well-known. Archimedes made advancements in calculus and the calculation of pi.

Ancient India (circa 600 BC – 600 AD): Indian mathematicians like Aryabhata and Brahmagupta made significant contributions to number theory and algebra. They introduced the concept of zero and decimal place value notation, which were later transmitted to the Islamic world and Europe.

Islamic Golden Age (circa 8th to 13th centuries): During the Islamic Golden Age, scholars like Al-Khwarizmi and Omar Khayyam contributed to algebra, trigonometry, and numerical methods. Al-Khwarizmi’s work on solving linear and quadratic equations laid the foundation for algebra as a distinct branch of mathematics.

## Why Do We Study Math

Studying mathematics serves several crucial purposes and offers numerous benefits, both in our academic pursuits and in our daily lives. Here are some key reasons why we study math:

TIn today’s data-driven world, quantitative literacy is vital. Math helps us understand and interpret numerical information in fields like economics, science, and technology. It allows us to make informed decisions and evaluate claims and statistics critically. To solve and to think. One of the most obvious uses of math is for problem solving. Mathematics equips us with problem-solving skills that are essential in various aspects of life. Whether it’s balancing a budget, planning a project, or resolving complex scientific or engineering challenges, math provides a structured approach to finding solutions.

In that process, math encourages critical thinking and logical reasoning. It trains our minds to analyze situations, identify patterns, and make sound decisions based on evidence and facts.

Further into one’s pursuit for knowledge, mathematics opens up many routes career opportunities, many professions require mathematical skills. Fields like engineering, finance, computer science, physics, and architecture heavily rely on mathematics. Proficiency in math can open doors to a wide range of career opportunities.

Lastly, maths is also a basis for scientific understanding. Math is the language of science. It provides the tools to formulate and test hypotheses, model natural phenomena, and analyze experimental data.

Without math, many scientific discoveries and technological advancements would not be possible. Scientific understanding also increases the development of technology. From computer algorithms to cryptography, mathematics is at the heart of innovations that shape our modern world.

## Other Uses

Other than practical uses of mathematics, maths can also be said to play a part in art and beauty. Mathematics has an aesthetic quality. It can be appreciated for its elegance, symmetry, and beauty. Albeit a less role in the arts, concepts like the Golden Ratio and fractals demonstrate the artistic side of mathematics.

As shown in the above history of mathematics, it has been an age-old topic of interest.  Mathematics has a rich history and has been developed by diverse cultures over millennia. Studying math provides insights into the intellectual achievements of different civilizations. therefore also contributing to historical and cultural significance.

In these sectors, learning to appreciate the subject for its progression over time and bringing it to new frontiers is also a use for mathematics!

## In Summary

Always remember  to embrace the challenges of mathematics, for every problem you conquer is a step closer to unlocking the limitless possibilities that await you. Keep learning, keep exploring, and never underestimate the incredible impact your mathematical journey can have on your future!

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