Many students struggling with Mathematics questions often moan about how they will never need to apply the Maths theories when they grow up.
I beg to differ. Not only does Mathematics train our mind to think critically, which is very crucial in our adult lives, it definitely opens paths to an exciting stream of job opportunities such as IT or engineering. This is more true today when many jobs are outsourced overseas so the “knowledge worker” with the skillset is indispensable.
Here are some areas where Maths is critical. I hope this can help with maintaining excitement in school Maths.
There are many forms of engineers – electrical, mechanical, chemical, civil, industrial, aeronautical, materials etc. All of them require Maths on an almost daily basis: from calculating the voltage and current load on an electrical circuit, to the maximum load possible on a bridge. Some of these maths are quite advanced – for example the Fourier transform is commonly used in signals processing.
While usually understood to mean the people who set up desktop computers and troubleshoot network problems in the workplace, IT jobs cover a whole spectrum of roles. Google, Apple and Microsoft are consistently the top most desired employers in the world. Interviews at Google are known to be creative but very tough. This is one question that was asked at the interview.
You are given 2 eggs. You have access to a 100-story building. Eggs can be very hard or very fragile means it may break if dropped from the first floor or may not even break if dropped from 100th floor. Both eggs are identical. You need to figure out the highest floor of a 100-story building an egg can be dropped without breaking. The question is how many drops you need to make. You are allowed to break 2 eggs in the process.
The maximum egg drops for this method is 14 times.
Instead of partitioning the floors by 10, Start at the 14th floor, and then go up 13 floors, then 12, then 11, then 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 until you get to the 99th floor, then here. If the egg were to break at the 100th floor, it would take 12 drops (or 11 if you assume that it would break at the 100th floor). Say, for example, that the 49th floor was the highest floor, the number of drops would be the 14th, 27th, 39th, 50th (the egg would break on the 50th floor) plus the 40, 41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48, and 49th floor for a total of 14 drops.
The main search algorithm at Google, PageRank, devised in 1996, involved probability distributions and complicated matrix manipulation.
In medicine, numbers are critical for many purposes including the analysing of the spread of an epidemic. Dr David Wilson at the National Center in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research claims he uses Maths every day to understand what is going on in the real world and to understand how things change according to the different types of behaviour or other phenomena. And it’s not just the ability to manipulate figures – it’s also the analytical and sometimes creative thinking required in Maths that can help.
Maths is also essential in many other life science fields such as biomedical engineering, biomaterials engineering, biomechanical engineering, genetic engineering and protein engineering. Skills such as statistical analysis and complex mathematical modelling are valued.
One of the most famous equations in quantitative finance is the Black-Scholes formula. It is a Mathematical model used to value the price of a certain derivative instrument. Mathematical finance is a key requirement in many banking roles, including sales, structuring and trading.
Hedge funds also develop many of their investment strategies based on mathematical models of the market.
Here is a summary of the gross monthly wages (75th percentile) of some of the cool jobs that require Maths:
Foreign exchange dealer / broker $22,302
Trader / broker (oil and bunker trader) $19,500
University lecturer $14,000
Software and applications manager $12,280
Chemical engineer $10,105
IT service manager $9,999
General practitioner / physician $9,963
Chief information officer / Chief technology officer $9,405
Financial risk analyst $9,335
IT project manager $7,570
Medical scientist $6,436
Mathematician, actuary and statistician $5,339
So the next time you dread doing your Maths sums and exclaim this will never be useful in future. Don’t. Think twice. Who knows, it may be Maths that saves you from a retrenchment or Maths that will assist you in getting your first million. Work hard now.
Wallace, like many other kids, didn’t understand the applications and usefulness of maths until he was older. Maths did set him up for trading, and he’s thankful for that. He’s set up a facebook page together with his buddy to answer PSLE queries. Like them here http://facebook.com/studyroomjr.