Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yes, you do use algebra.

I like today's xkcd for sticking up for math, but it does bring up one of my pet peeves: people who claim that most adults don't ever use algebra.

If you are reading this post right now, you almost certainly use algebra regularly. It may not look like the "solve for 'x'" problems you saw in high school, but you use it.

Have you ever split bills with roommates? "Amanda paid the cable/Internet bill, Sara paid the power bill, and I paid the phone bill. How do we split up rent to get back to even?" Yeah, that's totally algebra.

How about splitting up a restaurant bill? "I split the artichoke dip with four other people and a bottle of wine with two other people, I had the pasta dish for an entree, and I split a dessert with one other person. My share with tax and tip comes to..."

Have you ever compared prices at a store? "The package with 6 rolls of paper towels is $3, but the package with 10 rolls is $4, so that one is a better price per roll."

This is all algebra. It's a crucial part of mathematical literacy, and it's simply not true that most people won't use it. And if you know anyone currently taking algebra, help them realize how important it is to learn!

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