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Updated: December 26, 2011 02:59 IST

The unreasonable ubiquity of mathematics

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Math Unlimited: Essays in Mathematics

editors: R. Sujatha, H.N. Ramaswamy, C.S. Yogananda; 2012; Science Publishers/ CRC Press; $ 49.95

The word mathematics derives from the Greek word ‘Mathema,' which encompasses knowledge, study and learning. Though it is rooted in abstraction and logical reasoning, its effectiveness was recognised, and it contributed vastly to the development of geometry and astronomy. As a highly structured edifice, it is a shining example to the collective human endeavour that transcends geographical boundaries as well as chronological ones. Mathematics is perhaps unique as a subject that continually uses results and concepts developed in antiquity by different civilisations over three millennia. The earliest recorded evidence of humankind grappling with solving equations of degree three can be gleaned from Babylonian stone tablets.

Galileo Galilei is supposed to have said that mathematics is the key and door to all the sciences.

Since the Era of Enlightenment in Europe, mathematical knowledge has been crucial to developments in physics, and this continues to this day with intimate connections between theoretical physics and advanced mathematics.

Making inroads

In today's digital age, theoretical computer scientists are discovering that abstract concepts developed in mathematics are ideal in designing computer languages and in unravelling complexity of phenomena. In the last two decades, mathematics has made inroads into other areas such as biology and economics.

The intrinsic value of mathematical ideas, and the depth and beauty of abstraction, are what most mathematicians find deeply appealing.

The volume, Math Unlimited: Essays in Mathematics, is a collection of essays that spans pure and applied mathematics as well as the spread of mathematical ideas and techniques in other areas, ranging from computer science to physics and biology.

It is aimed at an audience with an interest in mathematical research and aspects of history of mathematics and highlights the pervasive nature of mathematics today in different areas.

Almost all the contributors are Indian scientists, and the volume thus gives an idea of the canvas of scientific research in the country.

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Mathematics is undoubtedly the Queen of Sciences. It is impossible to imagine human development in Science and Technology without corresponding development in Mathematics. Mathematics comes closest to the meaning of Truth in philosophy. Unfortunately the standard of imparting Mathematical education in India has dropped considerably. As a result, children lose their interest and curiosity in Mathematics early and this explains why they don't pursue it at higher level. There are no incentives to pursue Mathematical research. If India is ever to become a Knowledge hub, it needs to draw its people toward Mathematics. Mathematics should be given a special status. A advanced degree in Mathematics should be made compulsory.

from:  aatifanjum
Posted on: Dec 26, 2011 at 09:31 IST
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