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#1 2013-10-01 04:31:30

daijoubu
Member
Registered: 2013-09-28
Posts: 8

What worldy occurrences can we think of in terms of mathematics?

I have been thinking about this for a while. The majority of people see math as useless. Beyond arithmetic, fractions, ratios & percentages and basic geometry there is nothing useful for the average person. Anything to do with algebra or beyond is almost exclusively used by people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics itself.

So what way can you use algebra in our daily lives? A friend of mine used it at a restaurant when the bill came. So she could work out who owes what, since we didn't pay ourselves. I can't think of many other ways to use math in real life. You can use some probability when gambling. I have used basic algebra when making the most basic of programs.

I was thinking about probability the other day. How we seem to make it up. A coin flip we say has a 50/50 chance, but we don't know this. It just seems logical that two options would have a 50/50 chance if there's no other known variables. We rarely ever get an equal amount of heads and tails in the real world. Probability is just an educated guess in my opinion. It's just the likelyhood from what we know. For a simple coin toss i'm sure it would be wiser to factor in the person flipping the coin, how they flip it, and what head the place it on before they flip.

Nevertheless probability generally works over time. If there is a 75% win on blue, but 25% win on red, then any logical person would choose blue over an over. Overtime they will win more than lose which will have a compounded affect. Unless they had some better way to predict each outcome every time. Now imagine for each decision in life we had some way of knowing the probability. If we followed the option with the highest probability each time then over the course of our lives the benefits would add up. Though we can't exactly give something a probability because it would be a guess. However if you could narrow down the most contributing factors and gather statistics then this would be possible.

I think on a subconscious level people weigh their options like this anyway. You might avoid going to an area because of the high crime rate. People put their children in schools with high success rates. Now imagine you had statistics and could predict simple things as which degrees are most likely to get a job that pays x amount. What attributes are most desired by these types of women. You would simply follow probabilities which give you a better chance in life. Of course that is hard to quantify.

What Can anyone think of any creative ways to use math in the real world?

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#2 2013-10-01 05:04:13

bobbym
Administrator
From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 81,420

Re: What worldy occurrences can we think of in terms of mathematics?

Hi;

The majority of people see math as useless.

That is true, but the majority is almost always wrong. As you mention later, people tend to follow the majority, the trend, but it is rarely the best way.

You asked a lot of questions and only a few of them can be answered. For one thing when we speak of probability of a coin toss we are speaking about perfect coins that have a 50-50 chance. Real coins are biased.

The rules of probability have been worked out a long time ago. The important thing is they work.

For a simple coin toss i'm sure it would be wiser to factor in the person flipping the coin, how they flip it, and what head the place it on before they flip

I agree. Some Vegas casinos found out the hard way concerning their Roulette wheels. By the way Vegas is the longest running simulation of the laws of probability in human history. It all works fine.

Anything to do with algebra or beyond is almost exclusively used by people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics itself

That is true but technology and engineering are our whole lives. They are everywhere.

Can anyone think of any creative ways to use math

Hmmm, asking people to be creative on demand just does not work. That is like asking can anyone paint the Mona Lisa, or can you play brilliant chess or get an original idea.

I can not think of anything except the fact that we are exchanging ideas on this forum everyday and using Mathematics and English to do it.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
I have the result, but I do not yet know how to get it.
All physicists, and a good many quite respectable mathematicians are contemptuous about proof.

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#3 2013-10-01 08:52:04

daijoubu
Member
Registered: 2013-09-28
Posts: 8

Re: What worldy occurrences can we think of in terms of mathematics?

The majority of people see math as useless.
That is true, but the majority is almost always wrong. As you mention later, people tend to follow the majority, the trend, but it is rarely the best way.

You asked a lot of questions and only a few of them can be answered. For one thing when we speak of probability of a coin toss we are speaking about perfect coins that have a 50-50 chance. Real coins are biased.

The rules of probability have been worked out a long time ago. The important thing is they work.

Can you elaborate on this? I'm not sure if I understand correctly. Do you mean a perfect coin is an abstract concept which doesn't exist in the real world, yet probability theory works in the real world? Or do you mean something else?

Last edited by daijoubu (2013-10-01 08:54:48)

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#4 2013-10-01 11:19:16

bobbym
Administrator
From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 81,420

Re: What worldy occurrences can we think of in terms of mathematics?

Yes, we are talking about an abstract coin.

The die they use in a casino are as accurate as can be made and they changed frequently. The Roulette are balanced but over time will develop a bias. This is not noticed by the players and does not effect the outcome. The dealers are required to make sure that that game is being played as the rules require so that the house can extract its percentage on every play.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
I have the result, but I do not yet know how to get it.
All physicists, and a good many quite respectable mathematicians are contemptuous about proof.

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#5 2013-10-01 12:52:00

daijoubu
Member
Registered: 2013-09-28
Posts: 8

Re: What worldy occurrences can we think of in terms of mathematics?

@bobbym

I understand now. One point i'm trying to make is that 50/50 doesn't mean that's the way it will turn out. For example I have seen a coin flip to give 6 heads and 2 tails in 8 flips. That is 75:25 heads to tails. However the more you flip the more the results usually even out to around 50/50 overtime. Just because something has a high probability doesn't mean it will happen. The result is unpredictable each time. We are just guessing the likelihood based on some data. In this case there is a 1 or the other option so we say they both have an equal chance.

Likewise we might say a person going to university has a higher chance of being successful than a drop out but some drop outs become millionaires even though the probability is bad. However maybe there was something peculiar about the certain drop out that was not factored in. What i'm trying to say is we guess the probability based on what we know. There are two sides of a coin so we say 50/50 chance which makes sense. However we are ignorant of a lot about the universe. There may be more factors in every coin flip than we know. Not including what I stated before. The coin flip concept has only two outcomes so is very simple. Now if you try to take something like an economy and apply probability then God help you. There are so many variables. Nevertheless i'm sure people use probability to invest and such.

You could easily take statistics of people buying homes and finishing the mortgage payments over 30 years. Then see what factors stop people finishing the payments. Then assign some percentage of probability to each candidate based on their answers to questions. Then decide whether you'll give them insurance and how much you'll charge. I'm sure this is already done by people.

It is all really educated guessing in my opinion. Though whether they have sufficient information is up for debate. With simple casinos probability works because there aren't many variables except for card counting, hi end cheating, or something like that. When you use probability in fields with more variables then probability can fail miserably.

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#6 2013-10-01 14:49:29

bobbym
Administrator
From: Bumpkinland
Registered: 2009-04-12
Posts: 81,420

Re: What worldy occurrences can we think of in terms of mathematics?

There are 2 kinds of probability. Subjective and objective. When the weatherman says there is a 30% chance of rain, that is an subjective probability. It is a guess and often unreliable even in the long run. When we say the probability of drawing a king from a deck of cards is 1 / 13 this its an objective probability. It is the result of a calculation or some empirical experiment. These are highly reliable in the long run. As a matter of fact the term luck has little meaning here.

Probability works in Vegas because it is of the objective type and they can get into the long run quickly.

Even though a perfect coin is 50-50 we can say nothing about the next coin toss. It is unknown but I can say an awful lot about the next 10000 tosses.


In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them.
I have the result, but I do not yet know how to get it.
All physicists, and a good many quite respectable mathematicians are contemptuous about proof.

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