Numbers vs Maths

22 01 2019

I was always “good at maths.” At school, through til A Level’s it came to me easier than most other subjects, and I hugely enjoyed it – it wasn’t until university that it felt like a completely different subject that I just had no ability to do! I kinda assumed I’d just reached my limit, or I was an anomaly who just couldn’t handle the switch from working stuff out to proving stuff.

But on the way home tonight, I listened to this week’s Infinite Monkey Cage episode/podcast called “The Origin of Numbers.” During the last ten minutes or so, they said the following:

“I don’t know a single mathematician who’d say they were good at mental arithmetic.”

And it was like a revelation – I can do all the number bits, just the theory that I find hard. They talk about there being a distinction between numbers and mathematics.

They also talk about a condition called dyscalculia which they thought many mathematicians actually have, which is where you have problems with arithmetic. I feel like maybe I had the opposite to that!

So maybe, after all those years in education, I never was “good at maths”, I was good at numbers! I wonder if that explains why I am so into data, spreadsheets, processing, rather than any inclination at all to carry on in academia.

If you’re at all into maths or numbers, it’s a very interesting listen – go ahead!

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A little bit of maths

31 12 2013

Last week it was my Dad’s birthday, and he turned the age of the year my Mum was born. We then realised that Mum was the age of the year Dad was born in. I thought a bit further and realised that when my Dad is the age of the year I was born in, then I’ll be the age of the year he was born in. It looked like this worked every time, but it seemed a good opportunity to work out why.

So I thought I’d de rust my brain and see if I could still do a mathsy proof – turned out it was ridiculously straight forward πŸ™‚

define x=(year person a was born) mod 100
define y=(year person b was born) mod 100

person a reaches the age person b was born at year (x+y) mod 100
person b reaches the age person a was born at year (y+x) mod 100

we know x+y=y+x (e.g. call this z), so this will always happen at the same year

QED





Stats on Poverty: There are many reasons why I love this video

23 08 2013

If you haven’t checked out TED before, it’s a website full of short talks about all sorts of topics by all sorts of people, from a blind pianist, to mental health, there’s some great stuff on there – check it out!
Here’s one that I discovered today and is completely fantastic:

Reasons I love it

  • It is choc-a-block full of data and statistics with proper deep meaning
  • There are colourful graphs that move and show 4 dimensions of data in one go
  • The speaker commentates on the moving graph as if it’s a sport
  • There is a mass of information about the changes in world poverty over the last 40 years in all sorts of aspects
  • The man’s passion to make data more accessible to all by providing a link to make it more visual and less dull
  • The guy reminds me so much of one of my maths lecturers from uni with his accent and enthusiasm!

Definitely worth a watch!