We can all recall sitting in a math class, watching the clock tick away, waiting for a monotonous lecture on trigonometry to end. The way mathematics is taught in the standard education system leaves most students uninspired and uninterested.
The reason so many people relate to the pointlessness of studying for a math exam, isn't that it will do us no good in real life. It's because schools and educators have often failed to provide us with sufficient explanations of it's true nature. You might say that daily life just requires simple arithmetic and basic computation, most of which can be done on a mobile phone. But the undeniable truth is that math is an integral part of our lives and has its place in every single application of matter that has come into existence. Math is so important that we often overlook its brilliance and just accept it as the way things are, instead of celebrating the very concept of math and its spectacular role.
Take Fractal art for example, it is so visually appealing that it's hard to believe that the results come from complex mathematical calculations. Fractals are mathematical sets of numbers, corresponding to shapes that have inspired artists for centuries. The power hidden in these mathematical calculations is that we can easily generalise them into patterns. These patterns are repeatable and functional for all types of computations and happen in our mind almost instantaneously. While solving a task, we transform our minds into unique laboratories fit for that specific thought experiment. Just like artists do, when drawing these amazing examples of fractal art.
Math comes from absolute truth, and a broader look at the multiverse that surrounds us. Nobel physicist Paul Dirac (1902-1984), is known for his most impressive discoveries and predictions in regards to that of the positron, largely by computing elegant, yet simple mathematical descriptions. Now, simple diagrams can show us everything we need to know about the distance between planets which has enabled space exploration to reach new milestones, all because of mathematical computation. We have tamed the infinite, with a beautiful argument.
The famous British mathematician turned philosopher, Bertrand Russell (1872 - 1970), had this to say on the beauty of math: "Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty - a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show".
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Another well known mathematician, Henri Poincare (1854 - 1912) articulately described mathematical beauty by saying that "to ignore it would be to forget the feeling of the harmony".
In this sense, mathematicians talk of the beauty of maths with sheer admiration and passion because they truly understand what it means for humanity. Mathematics points directly to the natural world around us and the fundamental realities of the universe. Math can not manipulate the truth, it proves the facts we know about our world, math gives us the certainty that the human mind has craved for ever since we came into existence.
Math seems complex and mind-wrecking, and often frustrating to say the least. Big discoveries have been made at the cost of years of research and hard work by scientists and mathematicians and the journey was not an easy one. But in the end the intellectual and human value mathematics has created, is all surely worth it. Mathematics has given us the internet, the technology, and uplifted the living experience of each individual human.
Most people hold the wrong perception of math because of how it's introduced, how it's taught and even how our media has chosen to present it. The media now commonly defines a person who likes math as a prodigy or a gifted student and readily excludes average kids from identifying with loving math. Many kids grow up not wanting to be defined as geeks or nerds and in doing so, distance themselves from understanding it deeply. The students that do make an effort in mathematics, do so to pass their exams, and never truly understand the nature and implications behind this vital subject.
What students should learn, is that progress in math comes from understanding it concepts, and looking at it from the viewpoint of a creative problem solver. Mathematical computation is interconnected with all fields, which makes the problem solving feel like your exploring a landscape. Math allows us to be creative, develop logical thinking skills, and broadens our intellectual capacity. So for math to be seen as beautiful, we need more people learning math from a creative standpoint, through endless discovery of infinite landscapes. Hopefully, there will be a day when the beauty of math, isn't just seen in the eyes of the beholder, but in the eyes of everyone.