Math has an unfortunate reputation for being difficult to understand. For those with math anxiety, the thought of tackling mathematical tasks can even cause serious panic.
But math anxiety doesn’t come from an inability to perform math. Rather, it’s a lack of self-belief. And a great way to overcome this fear and self-doubt is to recognize the importance of real life math.
The truth is, we use math every day. Whether we’re baking a cake, watching the news, or shopping for bargains, real world math comes into play. In fact, there are many ways we use real world math without being aware of how necessary skills like calculating ratios and understanding probabilities are in lots of everyday tasks.
Want to know some examples of math real world applications? Keep reading to find out!
1. Smart Shopping
By far the most common use of real world math is deciding how to spend our money at the store. Everything from considering the best deals, working out the cost per wear, and comparing nutrition facts labels all involve real math.
For example, that 3-for-2 special offer on peanut butter might seem tempting. But a quick glance at the price per unit will soon show you that it’s cheaper to buy one large jar at the regular price. Likewise, a pricey coat might feel like a big expense at the time. But if you wear it several times a week every winter, calculating the cost per wear makes it a much better deal than a cheap coat you wore a handful of times.
These are the kinds of real world math problems we face – and solve – every day. And often we don’t even consider how mathematics comes into the equation since most of the math problems we studied in school were abstract problems rather than real world examples.
2. Seeing Through the Stats
Every day we’re bombarded with news reports and claims full of real life percentages and statistical evidence in support of a certain view. But considering the real math behind these stats can help you understand, and even question, these reports.
For example, a politician might try to persuade you by quoting large numbers. Five million people sure sounds like a lot, but if you know how to calculate percentages you might see that these numbers aren’t very significant. That’s because percentages in real world comparisons often help you understand information better than raw numbers, and especially if you’re comparing large entities with small entities, such as the population of California with the population of Wyoming.
Or, what if a company is trying to sell you something? It might sound convincing that one in five people buy their product. But if the other four are all choosing a competitor’s product, that could be the better buy.
Here you can see that real world math doesn’t just help to improve our ability with numbers. Understanding the numbers better also helps to strengthen logical thinking and analysis. Math can help you see through the stats and question the information you receive. And as a result, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions.
3. Clever Cooking
You’ll find a lot more real math in the kitchen than anywhere else in the house. You could even say that recipes are nothing more than mathematical algorithms. After all, they work to apply math to the real world as a set of step-by-step operations.
And that’s before you even get into tricky applications such as converting metric measurements to US standard units or using ratios to make a bigger or smaller batch. For example, if the recipe makes enough food for four people but you’re cooking for six, you’ll have to use math to adjust each ingredient by the correct amount.
Now consider a cake recipe that calls for two cups of flour, 2/3 of a cup of sugar, one egg, and an 8-inch baking tin. How would you go about increasing the proportions to bake a cake large enough to fit your 12-inch baking tin? It’s these kinds of math applications that show how relevant math is in our everyday lives.
4. Managing Your Finances
Without math skills such as a basic understanding of real life percentages, you might not always make the right decisions when it comes to your finances.
Real world math will help you know how to calculate and compare interest rates. This will then serve you well for choosing the best credit card or bank account. And if you’re lucky enough to have some savings, you’ll need math to help you work out whether a certain savings account is such a good place to tie up your money for years.
Whether you choose to spend, save, or invest your money, math will come into play. If you’re saving up for something you’ll need math to help you budget. If you’ve got loans and bills to pay off, math knowledge will also come in useful when trying to understand options such as debt consolidation and monthly repayment plans.
5. Beating the Odds
If you like gambling, real math should be your best friend. Working out current form, understanding odds, or weighing up whether to spread your bets or not all take some serious mathematical reasoning.
If you’re heading to Vegas, math ability can give you the edge to win, much as it did for the MIT Blackjack Team in the 2008 movie 21. If you’re more into sports betting, analyzing the statistics and considering probabilities can help you get a better feel for who’ll win and how to bet on their chances.
Even if you like playing the lottery, taking the probability of drawing certain numbers into account can help increase your chances of winning.
Using Real Life Math Applications
The uses for real life math in our daily lives range from deciding on which shampoo to buy to considering the best mortgage rate.
And these are just some of the examples of the many ways we use math. A good handle on mathematics is also important for many careers, as well as hobbies and interests such as dressmaking and carpentry.
For more interesting insights and life tips, be sure to check out our other blog posts!