### A short video to undo math anxiety

### Gold Increases by 300%!

This gold chart (source: Kitco.com) appears to show a dramatic – over 300% – increase in the value of gold over a period of just 7 hours on February 15th, 2019.

Students learning Mathematics and Statistics must exercise their detective instincts when viewing data in graphical form and this is an excellent example. Of course, gold only went up by $US7 – still a significant jump, but the graph makes this increase (of around just 0.5%) look must more spectacular. This technique is often used to boost interest in a product, or to exaggerate sales figures. As H3 Maths has said before, graphs tell a story – but, in this case, it is a short story rather than a long novel.

Read more about how to avoid misleading graphs here

### Why math if we don’t use it in everyday life?

That’s a very good question and I am going to invite Kedar Marathe – who works at Tata Technologies in India – to answer it:

“Look around the world in which you live. Almost everything that you experience and enjoy is possible because of Mathematics.

1. You drive a car. A car company uses CAD software which lets it design and model components with absurd ease. Do you know how a CAD software works? It uses rigorous mathematics from geometry to matrices. That’s one part of it. The calculation part.

To display a model on your computer screen is yet another story. Processes are set, algorithms are developed and executed. But merely developing an algorithm is not sufficient. You have to optimize it. To develop and optimize an algorithm you need mathematics … for this you would need to master functions, graphs and calculus. To perform stress analysis on car components you would need yet another algorithm. To develop them you would probably need to study finite element analysis and matrices. This is true for any industry and not just for car industry.

2. Consider a security firm. Their tools must be able to identify a person’s face. For this, they need a face-recognition algorithm. Now some geeks have developed many such algorithms. Some of them are simple and less accurate while some are highly accurate but difficult to employ. Development of each such algorithm requires extensive knowledge of matrices, probabilities. But do you know what is beautiful? The security firm may audit itself and using yet another mathematical process, assess exactly what type of algorithm it would need. Mathematics again! This is true for any forensic analysis such as fingerprint and face matching, pattern recognition, etc. Many private and public security firms, law enforcement agencies and spy agencies are using and developing such specialized tools thanks to mathematics. (Check here for more about facial recognition)

3. Let’s come to gaming. You will be thrilled to know that while playing combat games, you are actually fighting with an algorithm which can ‘learn’ you by using genetic algorithms for example. Imagine yourself at a scene in a game. You can’t see what’s behind you in a scene, but as you look at it, the scene develops. There are special compression algorithms that use the information of the scene in compressed format when nobody is looking at it. I guess I don’t have to repeat now but still, I will. Mathematics!

4. Investment funds, hedge funds and other financial institutions predict the market and make decisions using mathematical software. Again, it requires number crunching, statistics, pattern recognition (which itself requires a lot of mathematics), optimization, functions and graphs and calculus (for effective predictions). Insurance companies need to use probabilistic models of customers to come up with new policies.

I think this is ought to convince you?”

### Why do we need quantum computers?

### The Real Math Behind ‘The Simpsons’

So, in relation to my last post, here is a puzzle that appeared in a Simpsons Episode – centered on baseball. Can you figure out the attendance at this game? For a complete explanation, check out this 12min video here.

### Which number is the odd one out?

These talented young dancers are doing a routine for a judge – who will score them using their numbers. Above them are two more numbers, making the sequence 5, 7, 2, 5 or (top to bottom) 7, 5, 5, 2. My students enjoyed coming into class and, when seeing four numbers on the board, trying to find the odd one out. Many times, there is more than one answer. For example, with the numbers 1,2,3,4 two are even and two are odd and two are prime. So, which one is the odd one out? You might suggest that it is number 4, since it is the largest – or 1 because it is the smallest. Both answers are correct.

Now, back to the picture (taken yesterday) – 7, 5, 5, 2. Which one is odd? They are all prime numbers, so that doesn’t help, although I could notice that the sum of 7+5+5+2 is also a prime number.

I might choose the number 2 as the odd one out, simply because there is a bigger gap between the 2 and the other numbers. But, of course, you might find another one that is odd – perhaps one of the 5’s? Why? Because 5+2=7, leaving a lonely number 5 as the odd one out!

“No, no,” you might say, “It is the number 7, because 5×5=25 which ‘uses up’ the number 2, leaving the 7 as the odd one out!”

“But,” another might protest, “7-5=2, leaving the number 5 on its own!”

### Game on! Why Math Matters

“Math is not something we create … it is something we discover …” This quote is from “Game on! Why Math Matters” – a 55 minute video to inspire students to discover Mathematics. Filmed at the famous Mohonk Preserve in the Shawangunk Mountains near New York, the message to students is, “You often have to leave your comfort zone when you’re climbing, especially if you’re a beginning climber. … same thing in a math problem. In a situation in class, you may initially feel very uncomfortable because you don’t know if you’ll succeed. … In math and in climbing, I think getting through those fears is really a key to being able to learn and being able to just let yourself explore.”