Varying variables with a variety of various variations

By Alex Paul Atup. Alex, 16, is a student at New Era University, General Santos City, Philippines. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Find the inverse of the function (x+2) (x+5). Find the sine, cosine, and tangent of the triangle if A=4.

Mathematics. Difficult, right? Before writing this essay, I asked many of my fellow students about the subjects they like and the subjects they hate the most. The most-hated subject on average was mathematics, and algebra is not separate from that. They said that it was too hard. They need to memorize many formulas.

Variables, numbers, equations, the remainder and factor theorems, functions, geometry, calculus, quadratic formula, expansion of a sum, Fourier series, and many more relate to mathematics and algebra. As long as we are in education, be it primary, secondary, tertiary, and even at work, we cannot escape the need of mathematics in our lives. We always need to analyze at least one thing every day, find what’s in it, calculate, solve it, and many more.

Fran Lebowitz once assured us, that in real life, there is no such thing as algebra. However, I ask, is there no such thing?

The thing I first said about that is, “Huh?” Many might be thinking that math is something not useful – unimportant. Many questions like “How is that going to help us after graduation?” are asked. Even I once thought like that. It’s logical,  after all, you cannot use asymptotes and parabolas in most jobs. However, algebra has a deeper meaning than that. Something that most of us tend to overlook. How does not algebra exist, when it’s one of the things that create the foundation the world ITSELF? But first, how is it a foundation?

Try to find the real roots of the equation for the country’s present GNP (gross national product). How can you do that? Try to solving the height of the Petronas Towers using Pythagoras’ theorem and the Cosine Law. It’s possible, although why would you want to do it? Just search the internet. If seen through the outside functionality, algebra is somehow… useless.

Because of that, let’s take a look at where the inside stuff of algebra is involved. Believe it or not, the majority of the modern world is made possible by algebra. You may not know it, but it’s true.

How so?

One is the technology many of us are using currently. With the advancement of many gadgets, devices, and mechanisms, you may wonder, how are these possible? Quantum physics and electrodynamics were utilized with the invention of these. But considering the scale on whcih they create these things, surely, they need to tackle what is within, possibly, to the atomic level. How did they do that? Calculations. And what did they use? Undoubtedly, they used algebra to find what they needed to.

What else? Transportation. Like the one mentioned above, we needed to make the technology in order to run vehicles, be it terrestrial, aerial, or marine. Moreover, they need to calculate the fuel, trajectories, the operation time and many more, especially in space travel. If an error in the initial calculations was committed, who knows what catastrophes may happen? That is also present in architecture, biology, chemistry, and things more. That is just one of the things made possible by Algebra.

See? Without algebra, many of these things would not be possible, for it is the root of their foundations. Without it, you will not be reading this essay right now. So, how is algebra not important?

Second, algebra exists in the system of education. You study at school, including algebra, and get good grades to graduate. In figurative thought, it develops your critical thinking, logical reasoning, and of course, it broadens the scope of your mind and imagination, so that you can be ready for the things that are possible to happen in the future, moreover, when you go to higher levels, like work. Then what happens? You’ll be productive – a useful individual for the sake of your country, for the sake of the world.

So, answering the question above, algebra is one of the foundations of the world, for it supports many things today. It is a domino effect, with algebra as the one taking down the first domino, and with that, many things will follow. I ask once more, how is algebra not important?

In a usual algebraic expression, there is always an unknown. Take “a + 2 + 3 = 6” and find a You should find the answer is 1. Easy, right. Now try answering “30x^2 + 45x – 60 = 1”. Can you? If you can do it easily, then kudos. But that’s usually impossible. That can be reflected in reality.

Problems range from easy to hard, depending on the situation. That’s how problems are. There are times where you cannot take hardships anymore, that you seek help from other people so that you can overcome them. There are also times that the problem can be easily tackled. There is also one more meaning from that.

I once got a score of seven in a quiz of 35 by answering everything mentally. I did that because I didn’t listen to the teacher saying that we need to show our methods. My friends who copied off me got the same score. I argued with our teacher why I had seven, even though I had all the final answers correct. One more thing is that our teacher seemed aware that my classmates cheated. My argument seemed invalid from the start due to my negligence, but I learned my lesson after that.

She said that math and algebra matters on how you solve the problem, not the answer itself. That made me realize how algebra is important. Life has various trials. You can’t solve all of them easily for many of them are difficult. As for the cheaters, if you cheat on your way up, you yourself, inevitably, will become useless. When you graduate cheating your way on it, what information did you learn? The end does not justify the means. The output does not matter, even if it is correct, if you do it with something disagreeable. A cent from hard work is better than gaining a dollar through evil means. Even though you got the answer wrong, as long as you are honest with it and gave it your all, it is satisfactory. And that is one more proof that algebra exists, and one of the important meanings it has.

Once more, unbelievably, we are using it in our daily lives. So why should not it be in existence? Sure, you cannot use algebra itself physically, when trying to win wars, or hold a meeting that may change the fate of the world. However, it exists in the system of education, reminding youth that they need to live their life honestly, not in the ways that will damage the welfare or their incoming future. It exists in the world, as it is one of the foundations it is built upon. Algebra is hard, but it’s not impossible, and we all know that.

Algebra? Doesn’t exist in real life? With this evidence, Ms Lebowitz, I’m afraid what you said was incorrect on many levels.

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