View Full Version : Math in careers

EricH

11-04-2005, 05:07 PM

My chemistry class started a discussion a few days ago on math in careers. It would seem that most of the class (the ten girls--all four guys are on a FIRST team and three of them are on CD) does not like math and would like to choose a career where math is not used. The teacher dealt with several careers, but I would like to go farther and show that most, if not all careers involve math in some way.

Here is my request: I want a career, not necessarily engineering/science related, and what math is used. I particularly want careers that require a college degree, or that you would not think of as having math involved. (e.g. lawyer, farmer, doctor, you name it.)

BTW, I was not assigned this by the teacher. I assigned it to myself.

sciguy125

11-05-2005, 02:37 AM

I'm going to go with the position that ALL jobs need math. The only issue is what level of math. If you're an engineer, you might be working with differential equations. If you're one of Hawking's friends, you probably see some sort of massive multivariable calc problem on a daily basis. If you're the guy selling me a burger, you need to count my change. If you're a kindergarten teacher, you probably don't use much more than 9+8.

Farmers definitely need math. You need to know how big your field is and how much stuff you can grow on it. You'd need to figure out how much fertilizer you need. I might be thinking too much like an engineer, but you'd need to optimize your crops to provide the highest income for the lowest investment.

Doctors need to figure out the dosage for their patients. I'm sure there's other things, but I can't think of them off the top of my head this late at night.

If you're a lawyer, you need to figure out how much to gouge your client.

However, as a philosopher, while you need math, you can probably talk your way out of it.

ngreen

11-05-2005, 10:05 AM

My economic teacher is always saying things like:

If you knew calculus(draw out calculus long), you could use it but it is not required for this class.

We still use a good amount of algebra and calculus is helpful and probably required to do any graduate work in economics.

Statistics is a class that is required by a lot of business type classes.

Economics and Business are still very important to all the jobs I know.

Trig can come in handy in everday situations a lot. My dad uses it to mark soccer fields and make sure the field is square.

I am sure there are jobs where math is minimal or non-existant but math isn't just limited to job. Other examples include personal finances, and paying tips.

So while math may seem hard, and sometime is, I think that taking math through algebra and trig is a good level to start/end is. I would further reccommend trying a introductory calculus class and statistics.

half geek

12-22-2005, 12:30 AM

I travel to South Dakota once or twice a year, where I visit family and friends who are either farmers or the family of farmers.

When I am there, I constantly see examples where math is used. For example, when I was checking some cattle, a family friend showed me where he used a GPS to navigate a carefully planned route that was perfected to almost the level of an Escher. This does not require the common mathematic skill set, but it certainly requires a working knowledge of how things fit together--something that can be reinforced by mathematics training.

Now, one can find the area of this field in two ways. For farming, it is sufficient to multiply the distance one travels along this spray path by the width covered by each pass. If you need to be more accurate, you can split up the land into sections with easily calculable areas, such as semicircles and squares.

However, what if the field in question had to be measured very accurately? Then, one might need some vector calculus and find the line integral.

Just easy math in every farmers' daily work :D

You know, I never thought about it before, but I should never be a farmer because I probably would try to be too perfect with things like that....

Madison

12-22-2005, 12:40 AM

I work in search engine marketing -- writing and managing sponsored search campaigns for car dealerships, specifically. When you see advertisements among the search results on Yahoo! and Google, that's my work.

I use math day in, day out, all day long. Marketing is sometimes perceived as a very emotional discipline, but ultimately it's about learning what does or does not motivate people to buy under given conditions. Using data I collect from my marketing campaigns, I'm able to build models of idealized campaign structures that will return our clients investment in the fastest way possible. Beyond the initial learning curve and time it takes to gather a substantial set of data, everything I do is now based on statistical analysis of advertising performance.

It's interesting and I'm far more comfortable doing things with math than I am following my gut feeling. My gut feeling is that advertising is bad. :)

Bill Moore

12-22-2005, 08:15 AM

Now, one can find the area of this field in two ways. For farming, it is sufficient to multiply the distance one travels along this spray path by the width covered by each pass. If you need to be more accurate, you can split up the land into sections with easily calculable areas, such as semicircles and squares.

However, what if the field in question had to be measured very accurately? Then, one might need some vector calculus and find the line integral.

Just easy math in every farmers' daily work :D

You know, I never thought about it before, but I should never be a farmer because I probably would try to be too perfect with things like that....

Q: Why does a farmer need good math skills?

A: Because when they protect their crops -- too little pesticide means they lose more of the crop, too much pesticide means they wasted money on excess spraying, and not following the mathematical instructions on the pesticide label means they can go to jail. Use of pesticides in any manner for which they are not specifically labelled is a crime -- the warning is printed on every label.

Not2B

12-22-2005, 07:14 PM

My wife is in advertising, and uses a scary amount of math. They have to know how to target you and beat down your defenses, so that you buy that hamburger while driving that car while wearing those designer jeans to your favorite store.

Almost everyone uses math - some people may not even know they are using math. If you spend money, you understand SOME math... It's all relative.

Here's a saying that my Dad taught me...

The Lotto - A tax on people who don't understand math.

Andrew Blair

12-22-2005, 08:43 PM

Well, I definently agree that everyone has to use math, probably more than they know, to get by every day. In every career. So, lets try and find the career that requires the least amount of math. I'm thinking Bachelors and above only.

My arguement would be an english or literature major. Probably very little math involved in that. Or maybe not! Whether I hated math or not(I don't by the way), theres no way I could analyze literature for the rest of my life!:ahh:

Warren Boudreau

12-23-2005, 09:29 AM

I have had this argument with one of my older brothers for years. He swears that he doesn't use math in his job and sees no need to ever use math more complicated than what is needed for balancing his checkbook.

The ironic part is that he wrote his own program to be able to estimate project costs for his electrical installation company.

I just sit back and grin. :rolleyes:

nocentbystander

12-23-2005, 12:15 PM

I suppose I haven't thought very much about it, but yes, I agree that math is definitely a part of every job. Being involved in a youth orchestra, I see that math is VERY present in practically all musical jobs- especially fractions! I'm also pretty sure that some english major out there could tell you how they use math in their job, although the only thing I can think of is poetry meters and lines, but that hardly even counts as math.

ali_rockon22

12-25-2005, 11:08 AM

Since I'm getting my medical degree right now I'll talk about the medical aspect. We use formulas to figure out the filtration rate of urine in your kidneys, for example. There also many different formulas to figure out different values of substances in your blood. It's not complicated stuff but its there.

sciencenerd

12-25-2005, 02:27 PM

I believe that while math is necessary for some jobs, there are definitely some which do not require much of a working knowledge. For example my English/History teacher last year was hopelessly mathematically incompetent, and you would never know except for the times when she tried to figure out exactly how far apart two events were in history. Then it came to the surface, she would usually resort to having us, her students, do it for her.

Now, you could turn this argument around and say that she did need math for her job to figure the dates out and such, but she obviously didn't know any. Since she was still a very good teacher, and I learned a lot from that class, it seems to me that she really didn't need it. Perhaps it would be helpful, but for 28 years now she's been teaching without it and doing fine.

TimCraig

12-25-2005, 07:43 PM

Now, you could turn this argument around and say that she did need math for her job to figure the dates out and such, but she obviously didn't know any. Since she was still a very good teacher, and I learned a lot from that class, it seems to me that she really didn't need it. Perhaps it would be helpful, but for 28 years now she's been teaching without it and doing fine.

Indeed. Possibly if she could do simple mathematics, she could enrichen her cirriculum even more. Or, on the other hand, since she can't do simple arithmetic, you might question her other reasoning capabilities.

John Gutmann

12-26-2005, 08:02 PM

If you're a lawyer, you need to figure out how much to gouge your client.

:mad: HEYY! my dad is a laywer!!! :mad: (jk, bout the mad faces)

Sooo true! haha, actually not that kinda of lawyer though

sciencenerd

12-26-2005, 09:02 PM

Indeed. Possibly if she could do simple mathematics, she could enrichen her cirriculum even more. Or, on the other hand, since she can't do simple arithmetic, you might question her other reasoning capabilities.

I agree that basic math would no doubt have been helpful to her in all aspects of life, including her career, but it was, as the evidence shows, not necessary. This was all I was trying to say.

Knowing this teacher for an entire year, it soon became obvious her other logical facilities were quite honed. She could debate anything, with whatever information she had. This teacher's memory and verbal processing were both easily above average, I don't think anyone who knew her could question her reasoning capabilities.

Adam Y.

12-31-2005, 12:33 AM

Q: Why does a farmer need good math skills?

A: Because when they protect their crops -- too little pesticide means they lose more of the crop, too much pesticide means they wasted money on excess spraying, and not following the mathematical instructions on the pesticide label means they can go to jail. Use of pesticides in any manner for which they are not specifically labelled is a crime -- the warning is printed on every label.

Psssstttt... Psssstttt... Not a good example. My grandpa didn't graduate from high school and he was a farmer. Then again he is 90 years old.

Gurdian

12-31-2005, 09:26 PM

\Not a good example. My grandpa didn't graduate from high school and he was a farmer.

My grandfather is also a farmer, and has father before him... There is a lot of trial and error and luck, but also a fair amount of math involved in calculating land size and approximate size of cattle and sale value.

sdexp

02-04-2006, 10:47 PM

That makes sense. Our math teacher introduced several calculus problems dealing with ranch optimization and John Wayne. To prevent leaking out the secrets to our school's freshmen and sophomores, I'm afraid I can't mention what the problems exactly are though.

I would say that math is directly applied in careers dealing with computer science, because writing in each language is like learning a new version of math.

b_mallerd

02-05-2006, 12:12 AM

Not really....I think programming language are mainly just syntax. The fundamental logic is still the same. Unless you are like jumping language generations...assembly is NOTHING like sql...and so on =D

MC_Elroy

02-07-2006, 08:27 PM

Architects use Math!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D :yikes:

ComradeNikolai

06-22-2008, 04:18 PM

Computer science uses math, as without math on a computer, you are limited to... nothing. That's how computers work. A program written without the ability to do calculations can merely take input and give static output. However, the ability to be GOOD at math is not necessary; I am very good at math, whereas my friend is just in Trig, and we're at the exact same level of programming ability; as long as you can reason out the algorithms, high level math is not necessary.

ManicMechanic

06-22-2008, 04:42 PM

Thanks for reviving this thread just in time. I have to give a talk in 2 days to 8th graders on why they should care about math and what careers use it.

Anyone who uses a credit card should know how to use math or risk getting rooked. How much does an iPhone cost (not counting monthly fee)?

Cost if paid up front: $199

Cost if paid by credit card, minimum payment: $1192.24

--amortization calculation, principal = $199, minimum monthly payment of $3.97, 23.9% interest (the rate on some store credit cards), 25 years to pay off.

Kind of like the lotto, but probably even more people do it.

Athleticgirl389

06-22-2008, 05:47 PM

Well obviously a math teacher requires math :p lol.

I'm a math major, and that's the first thing people think of when I tell them that - that I want to be a math teacher. I definately do not haha. I want to be a statistician or actuary. Both, obviosuly, require lots of math and knowing how to apply it. Gotta know a bit of everything, and not just math, in order to succeed (so I am finding out haha).

Bongle

06-22-2008, 08:16 PM

A bit more off-beat answer is city planners. The GIS software that they use to analyze spatial data requires good knowledge of set theory in order to deduce results.

For example:

Task: Find a suitable site for a new daycare

1. Select all sites in the right zone code.

2. Remove all sites that are within 1000m of a jail

3. Remove all shapes that aren't compact (perimeter / sqrt(area) > 6.0ish)

4. Remove sites that aren't near major roads

... many more steps of elimination ...

5. You will almost certainly end up with several sites that meet all your "hard" criteria like law and bylaw-compliance, so determine a weighting of the attributes of the remaining sites so that you can create a ranking of which sites are best. For instance, one site may require upgrades to the existing building, while another may require the design and construction of a new building. Depending on what your priorities are, one may be preferable to another.

I think though, this is another job where math skills aren't NEEDED, but they certainly help your thinking a lot.

Carlee10

06-22-2008, 08:44 PM

The only things I can think of that wouldn't use math are philosophy and religious studies. You would still have to know it, because of everyday life. Maybe if you become a monk or a nun, you would be free of all math.

ManicMechanic

06-23-2008, 12:04 PM

The only things I can think of that wouldn't use math are philosophy and religious studies. You would still have to know it, because of everyday life. Maybe if you become a monk or a nun, you would be free of all math.

Actually, math can be infinitely (ha) useful in enhancing one's appreciation for both philosophy and religious studies.

Blaise Pascal, author of Pensees, was both a philosopher and a mathematician/physicist (the Pascal computer language and the metric unit of measure were named after him). In Pascal's Wager, he uses binary logic to demonstrate the reasonableness (though not proof) of belief in God. Basically, there are 2 possibilities: God exists or God doesn't exist.

There are 2 choices of action: believe or don't believe.

The possible outcomes/results based on existence and belief are:

-------------- God exists ----- God doesn't exist

believe------- reward---------no punishment or reward

don't believe-- punishment -----no punishment or reward

If one believes, the possible outcomes are reward or nothing. If one doesn't believe, the possible outcomes are punishment or nothing. Pascal's premise was that if one were making a wager, there is no reason not to believe in a probabilistic sense – one who believes has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Math can also provide interesting insights in religious studies. For example, Genesis 5:25 (of the Bible) reports that Methuselah was 187 years old when he became the father Lamech, and Lamech was 182 when he became the father of Noah. The Flood came when Noah was 600 years old. If you add 187 + 182 + 600, you get 969, the age of Methuselah at his death. This means that Methuselah died in the year of the flood, and possibly died in the flood itself, implying that he may not have been a very righteous man.

Math may also point to seeming discrepancies in religious records, but with further information, they often work themselves out. For example, Daniel 9:25 reports that it will take 7 sevens (49 years) from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to its completion, and an addition 62 sevens (434 years) from the completion until the Annointed One is "cut off" (killed).

434 + 49 = 483 years

Historically, it is reported that the decree to rebuild Jerusalem was issued in 444 B.C. If you conjecture that the Annointed One was Christ, he lived 33 years (dying in 33 A.D.) and adding the years you get:

444 + 33 = 477 years (according to the Roman calendar)

The discrepancy between 477 years and 483 years might seem to indicate that the event described as the "cut off of the Anointed One" is not the death of Christ, unless you take into account that the Roman calendar has 365.24 days/year, but the Jewish calendar (which would have been used in the writing of Daniel) is 360 days. Converting 483 Jewish years:

483 X 360/365.24 = 476.1 years (by Roman calendar). Still not quite 477, but "pretty close," especially since the 444 and 33 years may include fractional increments.

Really, I think there are fun things to discover mathematically in just about everything.

Carlee10

06-23-2008, 12:12 PM

I know Pascal from math and chemistry, but I didn't know he was a philosopher, too. Wow, that's education coming back to bite me. I never thought I'd have to think about him again.

"Actually, math can be infinitely (ha) useful in enhancing one's appreciation for both philosophy and religious studies."

I meant above elementary school. All of the math you used wasn't, you know, calculus. But I uderstand your point. I also like your religious mathematical insights into the bible. It makes me actually want to use math!

Daniel_LaFleur

06-23-2008, 12:36 PM

I know Pascal from math and chemistry, but I didn't know he was a philosopher, too. Wow, that's education coming back to bite me. I never thought I'd have to think about him again.

"Actually, math can be infinitely (ha) useful in enhancing one's appreciation for both philosophy and religious studies."

I meant above elementary school. All of the math you used wasn't, you know, calculus. But I uderstand your point. I also like your religious mathematical insights into the bible. It makes me actually want to use math!

Not only was Pascal a philosopher, so was Galileo and Aristotle.

Kinda funny how math and philosophy go hand-in-hand ;)

Dmentor

06-23-2008, 12:43 PM

If you love math then you would like my job. I work on SONAR systems for a living. This is the convergence of graduate level course work in signal processing, detection/estimation theory, array processing, acoustics, multi-target tracking, etc. Needless to say you don't learn all of this overnight! I'm still learning after 15 years... I do algorithmic design so I spend a lot of time with fairly complex math. My engineering friends sometimes laugh at me because I regularly use eigenvalue decomposition and (less frequently) Bessel functions - things they typically never use. I think modern engineering is especially tough since not only is technology rapidly changing but it is enabling historical mathematic approaches that have only been theoretical due to computational load. This causes us to have to not only have to keep up with current research moving forward but also to dig into the past as well.

Carlee10

06-23-2008, 12:44 PM

Sigh, I guess this is true. Sad, though. But it makes for great mathematical theories.

Molten

06-23-2008, 01:07 PM

Sorry if this is out of place, but I just had to post it. This shows that math can be useful even to comedians I suppose.

If you don't get it, don't worry. Only real nerds do.

Carlee10

06-23-2008, 01:10 PM

Could you explain this?? Please!

steveg

06-23-2008, 01:12 PM

the integral of 1 / cabin with respect to cabin = ln(cabin) + c

log cabin + sea = houseboat

Molten

06-23-2008, 01:16 PM

the integral of 1 / cabin with respect to cabin = ln(cabin) + c

log cabin + sea = houseboat

I'm so glad somebody got it. My calc teacher showed us this in high school and the whole class got a good laugh at it. I imagine the reaction would have been different if it was presented in an english class or something.

Dmentor

06-23-2008, 01:23 PM

Guess I'm the nerdy type...

Is that an all wood houseboat or virtual?

ln(cabin) = natural log cabin OR e-based log cabin

Anyways, loved the joke... Thanks!

JaneYoung

06-23-2008, 01:38 PM

It would probably be wise for me not to post in this thread as I'm not very good with math/math concepts but, I have a couple of thoughts regarding it.

I googled 'math and art' and 'math and philosophy'. There are many links.

Math is everywhere and can be applied, used, studied - in many ways. It is likely limitless. I began losing my fear of math when I began quilting. Many of the quilt blocks are geometric by design and it is easy for me to work in color and fabric and apply the math skills needed in order to create a quilt. I've since discovered that there are geometry teachers who use quilts as one method of teaching geometry, helping students understand and apply those concepts.

In my adult years, I have learned to have tremendous respect for all the areas of math and how math affects our decisions, daily lives, careers/career choices and the ways in which it can and does impact the world and beyond. It's good to be respectful rather than fearful - then it becomes easier to grasp.

Dmentor

06-23-2008, 01:46 PM

Math is everywhere and can be applied, used, studied - in many ways.

Great observation! Try googling fractals. I used to love playing with these when I was younger, so artistic and yet the same principles are the underpining of sea-shells, trees, mountains, etc. Also look at things like the golden ratio... Beauty is everywhere and mathematics is echo'ed in it.

EDIT: And yes I suppose I really should get back to intersecting conics (this afternoon's project) rather than reading CD!

Richard Wallace

06-23-2008, 02:53 PM

... I began losing my fear of math when I began quilting. Many of the quilt blocks are geometric by design and it is easy for me to work in color and fabric and apply the math skills needed in order to create a quilt. I've since discovered that there are geometry teachers who use quilts as one method of teaching geometry, helping students understand and apply those concepts.Check out the cool quilts at this site (http://curvebank.calstatela.edu/ventersquilt/ventersquilt.htm). Scroll to bottom for a nice shot of a quilt based on the Sierpinski Triangle (http://math.rice.edu/~lanius/fractals/).

In High school we were shown "Donald Duck in Math Magicland". the premise was that Donald thought math was dumb and useless and then was amazed at how math was applied.

Like anything else, math is a series of very important tools. These tools can be used to craft all sorts of powerful and lucrative things. While many jobs don't require Math, those that know how to apply the Math typically do the best and make the most money.

Take for instance stats. I personally find them very boring. Until I met a math prof that did some amazing things with them. He basically provd the merits of an age discrimination case using statistics. Also if you think stats are boring read "Freakenomics". Pretty crazy stuff and a great read overall.

I know I am a nerd, but I truly enjoyed a book all about the origins of PI.

While math is not essential it does lead to better living. Proof in point, many would say that reading is essential, but illiterate people find ways to manage. No one will argue though that learning to read makes life easier and more enjoyable.

ebarker

06-23-2008, 08:46 PM

If you love math then you would like my job. I work on SONAR systems for a living.

Vision without a task is only a dream. A task without a vision is but drudgery. But vision with a task is a dream fulfilled.

Dean Kamen quoting an ancient saying

Except for a gifted few, most people go through school/college grinding through courses because it is required. If you are lucky you will find a job that will challenge you to really go back and learn something well.

I'd like to flip Dmentor's statement and say you can really learn to love math by doing a job like his. The work can be so compelling it leaves you gasping for more math knowledge and skill.

I was never a great math student but when I started doing signal processing it was an eye opening experience, both in the applications and how you really learn math.

EricH

06-24-2008, 09:45 PM

Math can also provide interesting insights in religious studies. For example, Genesis 5:25 (of the Bible) reports that Methuselah was 187 years old when he became the father Lamech, and Lamech was 182 when he became the father of Noah. The Flood came when Noah was 600 years old. If you add 187 + 182 + 600, you get 969, the age of Methuselah at his death. This means that Methuselah died in the year of the flood, and possibly died in the flood itself, implying that he may not have been a very righteous man.

Almost, but not quite. "Methuselah" means "dead sent" or "when he is dead, it shall be sent." Methuselah almost certainly died during the year of the flood, and probably beforehand due to his name.

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