Friday, April 27, 2012

X

X usually brings to mind algebra.  Solve for x.  For most people, it's the first independent variable one comes in contact with.  Up until algebra and pre-algebra, x simply meant to multiply numbers together.  It was pretty simple.  Pretty convenient.  And then the Cartesian plane is introduced, along with the concept of solving a function, f(x), and childhood ends.

I've been fortunate enough to always enjoy mathematics, and I've always excelled in the field.  That's probably part of the reason I went into engineering.  That's probably the reason I took a job as an engineering calculus grader for a few years, where I got to check student exams and quizzes.  I liked the beauty of math, the simple logic that said if you did this, then you can get this answer.  And once I started getting deeper into calculus, once I started understanding roots and intercepts, once linear algebra somewhat clicked, my world opened up even more.

The cool thing is that so often we solve for x without even knowing we're doing that.  If we're planning a road trip and know the distance and the speed we'll drive, we can estimate the time it'll take.  Likewise, if we know a trip is about 2 hours away and we're going about 70 mph, we can figure that the location is somewhere around 140 miles.  We make so many estimations and guesses without even thinking about it, and that is a form of numerical analysis and x-solving.

I love math.  I do.  It's fun, especially when it makes sense.  There are upper echelons of calculus and mathematics that I can't begin to fathom, but the stuff that I do get, that's enjoyable.

5 comments:

Kate Larkindale said...

Math baffles me... And as soon as the numbers got replaced by letters, I was gone. And I still don't get it.

Kate Larkindale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
contemplatrix said...

I am not all that good at math, and I sometimes think I should relearn it using the methods they are using on the daughter. in 5th she was at 15 percentile and "at risk" at first conference (we were at a new school). by the end of the year she had moved in with the "advanced" math class. She is not in advanced this year but she does well and that confidence boost from last year reminds her that success is possible. I will be borrowing this confidence for a basic math course I have this summer...

I hung out with a lot of me and ee students in college, and still have friends going through. homework would be three problems, but one problem would be three pages!!in small print!! I think I have always been drawn to the mentally unstable...

~L (omphaloskepsis)

Diz said...

I love the power of numbers! Here's to a fellow geek :)

logankstewart said...

@Kate: Sounds exactly like my mom. That's okay, though!

@L: That's great for N. I have a good friend that teaches math, and he spends a lot of his time really tryint to help students grasp and understand it, even when they don't think they can. And yes, I can attest to those horrible multi-page homework problems. Nightmarish, pure and unadultered.

@Diz: Huzzah!