Friends, friends and friends, it has been four months since I’ve poured out my inner-self on ‘I Believe That’. In these four months, I was being repeatedly insisted to write or compose something and share it over here, but life was just not easy then. DDU Connect’s demands were just too exorbitant to turn them down and it would have been immoral to shift my focus away from responsibilities and divert myself to some lame selfish interests. But now, when life has spared me a little, I want to make most of this parole. Hence, this blog post. This post “Calculating Life: An eulogy to Maths” is about my perception and times with one of the most elementary and inseparable subject of any academic genre – Mathematics. I am currently in my fourth semester of Engineering, which is also the last semester in which I will study Maths. I won’t be studying Maths any further in life and it is this woe of detachment with it which made me write this blog post. I will praise Maths a lot ahead (So Maths-haters may just switch over to FB again from here, the address bar isn’t far away from the mouse pointer) and share my perspective as to how it has taught me life. Presenting you ‘Calculating Life: An eulogy to Maths’.
Anybody’s journey with Maths begins with the first day of schooling itself- mine too began in the same rhythm and Maths was then called as Arithmetic by me. It was just a matter of counting the number of sticks drawn on the board and writing them in those blue big squares of the specialized maths notebook. Just in a decade after that (YES, JUST a DECADE, time is a small quantity) we started calling these squares as closed paths over which the line integration of a quantity is zero. I remember DIVISION was introduced to us in the 3rd Standard, and we as real maths enthusiasts would so gladly write down the heading DIVISION on the top of the page with a “gel pen” though we were allowed to write with only pencils then. Then division was fun and ‘0’ in a sum meant just that the answer was correct. Now a 0 with the division comes often as a herald of infinity as an answer which we called “ANSWER NOT POSSIBLE/ WRONG DATA” then. A few years later in standard 7th and 8th we were introduced to “X”, the dear son of maths which appears as a very famous unknown in most of the equations. X was called a variable then, but we never questioned how come variable had a fixed value (for equations with unique solution). Then came Pythagoras, the guy with the 90* angle. Rather than mugging up the formula hypotenuse squared= one side squared + other side squared, I was more involved in geometry of the right angled triangle which looked so much like the slides in the garden. (Even they are right angled structures, aren’t they?)
These were just the shallow waters of an ocean in an unperceivably fathomless realm. Then came the boss of all sets – SET of COMPLEX NUMBERS. How thoughtful would have been the creator of this set as he named the complex variable as “ i ” ! And even more thoughtful of him to name the set as COMPLEX! Reason being, problems in our life share an interesting analogy here. Things in life start getting COMPLEX when there is “ i “. The best period of learning maths was 12th standard where we were introduced to two most important members of this family- DIFFERENTIATION and INTEGRATION. When I was writing and mugging those d/dx, I never knew I would miss them as much as I would miss my cell phone at night when I would be expecting my better-half’s “GN”.
We all learned differentiation and integration, but never tried to get deep into what they did to the quantities over which they were applied. Differentiation generally reduces the quantity over which it is applied. (dy/dx meant y would reduce on differentiating with x) And integration of a quantity over a range would increase it. (∫x.dx will increase x) We just applied it to Maths’s x and not to our life. Had we applied an integration our over happy times and moments we would have increased their longevity and had we differentiated our sad times and sorrows we would have curbed them to their extinction.
Differentiating bitter times of my life is what I have learnt from maths. Integrating small and happy moments is what I have learnt from maths. When stuck with a problem in life, I have learnt to switch over the method to deal with problem just as we switch polar and Cartesian co-ordinates to find the area bounded by a curve. Nothing is amaranthine is what I’ve learnt from Infinite Series, where inspite of knowing that a series reaches infinity, we dare to check if it’s convergent or divergent. Maths has taught me to dare, Maths has taught me to take risks and Maths has taught me to the scale the unfathomable. And maths has taught me though answers might not come to every problem correctly, no efforts go unsalable. With every wrong answer, your marks might go weaker but your bond with numbers just strengthens.
Maths is a mirror to life. Life is full of problems and so is Maths. But the problem is we halt in life while solving problems and at times we also give up but we don’t in Maths. If we attempt to remove this line of demarcation between life and maths, life would be much easier. Maths is wonderful in one aspect, the outcome of a problem is really uncertain, if you get the desired answer well and good, and if you don’t you can always change the problem to make LHS = RHS. Why not apply it to life?
All said and done, Maths is just too seamless to summarize in a small blog-post by a petite writer as me. But one last thing in maths’ name. I have loved maths for one reason – that is it has allowed me to conquer the unconquerable – The INFINITY. I have all in my senses written in various sums –“Under the condition Limit -> ∞ “. Though I might not be able to approach infinity in my field in real-time, but all thanks to Maths, I have shown limits to INFINITY also. Maths has shown me curbing the surging infinity; maths has shown me calculating life.
Love & Regards,