Sunday, February 5, 2012

Math is about clarity in thinking

There was a period of time where I was confused if I had studied the right discipline. Afterall, I had done well enough to be able to choose the popular courses such as accountancy, engineering and such.

Misconception about Mathematicians

After some internal struggles, I decided to follow my heart and did Mathematics. I enjoyed my 4-year study which was such a joy. However, when I graduated, many people thought that mathematicians were just good with numbers. Some even erroneously thought that we could process the computation of more than 10 strings of numbers at a snap of the finger.

Logic thinking is the building block of Math

I was stunned for an explanation. Now, I would say that such misconception is an insult. Math is a study of logic. Logic thinking is the basic building block of math. The more than 10 strings of numbers add up as they follow a set of axioms that are consistent and true. Otherwise, the most powerful supercomputers will have runtime error.

So what is logic thinking? It means rigorous thinking. This statement is an example careless thinking "Life begins at conception because the fertilised egg contains all the information necessary to create an adult human being."

We can represent the 2nd segment "all information necessary to create an adult human being" as the "A" and "B" is "life". Mathematically, the statement above is saying A implies B.

So all genetic information on the fertilised egg fits snugly in a DVD. If I burn that info into a disk, is the disk alive?

Another statement "do no harm". Taken literally, this means "never take any action" because any action runs the risk of doing harm.

Yet another "all dogs have 4 legs. My cat has 4 legs. So my cat is a dog."

Math is all around you

So you see, many situations in life could be converted into a math question and be thought through with logic and rigor. That's why, I love math for its logical clarity, ironclad truth and elegance. That said, it's important to read beyond math. And let your mind run free.

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