Why We Study Mathematics

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Carnegie Mellon University
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Mathematics refers to the study of structure, quantity, space, and change. People who study Mathematics use various patterns to come up with new conjectures that can be explained with mathematical proofs. According to Suslov (2012), it uses logic and abstraction to count, calculate, measure, and systematically study the motions and shapes of objects. The practicality of calculations and use of numbers dates as far as the history. Philosophers and Mathematicians have attempted to explain the subject in different ways to establish the exact scope. The aspect of mathematics grew relatively slowly until the Renaissance period when it was used alongside major scientific theories to come up with the present day discoveries.

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Philosophers have expressed different views as to whether Mathematics was discovered or invented. The Platonists or Realists argue that it is discovered by human beings because the mathematical objects such as numbers and shapes are natural (Suslov, 2012). Also, according to Wilson (2009), Mathematics is not dependent on the intelligence of human beings and its existence was only realized. On the other hand, the Neo-Pragmatists or the Nominalists argue that it is a language and was invented or created like any other (Suslov, 2012). Therefore, it is an invention by the human and its advances are dependent on their intelligence. I tend to resonate more with the views of the Platonists as Mathematics is a natural language that would still exists even if there is no universe. It attempts to explain nature and it is up to the human beings to realize and utilize its presence.

Theoretical mathematics is the study of the basic and abstract concepts underlying Mathematics to get a deeper understanding of this knowledge. On the other hand, applied mathematics refers to the application of mathematical theories in other disciplines such as engineering, physics or business (Wilson, 2009). The distinction between these two categories has raised different opinions from the mathematicians. According to Suslov (2012), while pure mathematics attempts to express physical truths mathematically, applied mathematics formulate and utilize mathematical models in practical problems. Therefore, these branches depend on each other and none is more important than the other. For instance, computer technology can be used to study other scientific problem as well as computation mathematics such as numerical analysis. Also, statistical theorists use combinatorial design and algebra in mathematics to analyze and optimize scientific data (Reyna & Brainerd, 2007).

The study of mathematics enables students to improve their skills in critical analysis and solving practical problems. Additionally, the fact that the discipline poses a challenge that requires the use of various models makes it interesting. According to Reyna & Brainerd (2007), the daily use of statistics and representation of information in graphs and charts warrants the need to learn mathematics. Additionally, it gives a solid foundation for solving day to day problems affecting people. During the solution of mathematical problems, the mind develops imagination and a clear line of thought with a continued drive of simplification (Wilson, 2009). Therefore, it develops insight and language that enables one to understand and appreciate the world and the ways of manipulating it to their advantage. For this reason, most courses in the higher education incorporate mathematics as one of the primary disciplines to encourage critical thinking among students.

Mathematics is a crucial discovery by the human beings that helps them to manipulate the nature. Pure Mathematics equips one with skills to solve mathematical problems, which can be applied in other disciplines such as social sciences and Business. Therefore, it is important to learn mathematics to increase the level of logical thinking and solution of daily problems.


Reyna, V. & Brainerd, C. (2007). The Importance of Mathematics in Health and Human Judgement: Numeracy, Risk Communication, and Medical Decision Making. Learning and Individual Differences, 17(2), 147-159.

Suslov, S. (2012). Mathematics-An Open Access Journal. Mathematics, 1(1), 1-2.

Wilson, D. (2009). Mathematics is Applied by Everyone Except Applied Mathematicians. Applied Mathematics Letters, 22(5), 636-637

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