Math is Beautiful

One of my favorite movies is The Imitation Game - a  somewhat fictionalized drama based on the true story of mathematician Alan Turing during WWII. It is a fascinating story, very intense and very sad, and for a movie about a group of nerdy mathematicians, it was very exciting. It delves into the earlier days of modern computing - and demonstrates how amazing math is!

Many of you know already about my high school math struggles and about the amazing teacher who changed my life in the most incredible way. If you don't, please give this woman her credit by reading this story because her commitment to me is worth sharing.

Needless to say, that woman changed me possibly in one of the most meaningful ways I have ever been changed. If I can make that impact on one person in my life, I will be so pleased.

So I know better than most what it is to look at math in two ways. First, to see it as a mystery, a nuisance, a waste of time, a personal Waterloo. But then to realize it's beauty and significance.

I was just chatting with a friend of mine - and I will say I am blessed with very few friends who love math as I do, but I am grateful for each of them! - about a problem, and my philosophical response was, "well, what would we do in math? Simplify." In math, we always simplify.

We live in a world dominated by political drama, division, uncertainty and injustice. No matter how right we think we are in our opinions, someone else will argue that it is subjective. No matter the system, perfect justice can never be meted out. Humans get involved in just about any situation and we bring chaos and inspire fear.

Math is the opposite of this. Math brings order, explanation, assurance. Math is a revelation. Mathematics always brings justice, objectivity, surety. Math levels the playing field. Math provides the answers. It is beautiful when understood.

Math is completely free of prejudice. It is the ideal.

Perhaps it is best explained like this: "You do not study mathematics because it helps you build a bridge. You study mathematics because it is the poetry of the universe. Its beauty transcends mere things." - Johnathan David Farley

It is the poetry of life. As a poet myself, I can absolutely connect these two seemingly opposite positions. When I read a beautiful poem I am elevated to this certain level of feeling. And I can assure you that feeling is similar to the way I feel in using math to solve problems.

Math lets us see patterns. It takes facts and gives us explanation. It empowers us to higher thinking.

I was almost 18 years old before I had my eyes opened to this, and it is a miracle that so near the end of my high school journey that I decided to take on this challenge. I can't imagine where I'd be in my life now without that revelation. So much of what I enjoy doing is rooted in logic, strategy, analysis. So much of who I am relies on how I changed through that journey.

There are jokes aplenty about what a waste math is (eg: they taught us about parabolas but not how to do our taxes), but the fact remains we should always encourage people, especially children who are still going through school and have so many great opportunities ahead, to embrace math, to digest it and conquer the difficulties because it teaches you not just algebra and parabola, but how to think. How to reason. How to logically assess. And especially our young girls and women, teaching them to embrace math while they are young puts them at an advantage to develop careers on par with men when they are older.