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Math in Everyday Life: Unexpected Applications You Never Knew Existed

Math in Everyday Life

Let’s face it: Math is a tricky subject, and over 37% of teens find it harder than other courses they take. We have all been there, having a bittersweet relationship with Math, sometimes being joyous after solving a tricky problem and crying over some integration concepts the next moment.

Some of us study math only to get through high school, but there are other students who enjoy practicing Math problems. 

Whatever the case may be, Math remains a polarized subject with some mind-blowing daily life applications.

Have you ever thought that, in one way or another, you practically use and will require some basic knowledge of maths in daily life? 

We bet you have not thought about these examples. Let’s study some interesting facts about Math one by one:

1. Weather Prediction

There are multiple notable examples of math in daily life that you probably have not heard of before, one of which is weather forecasting. 

Now, weather prediction remains one of the most difficult tasks for scientists because weather contains numerous tiny complex molecules that interact with each other. Even with the usage of many supercomputers and weather station satellites, scientists cannot accurately predict it for more than a few weeks. 

But how do they do so?

It involves the usage of mathematical models and concepts. In the atmosphere, the fluid follows a set of rules called Navier Stokes equations. The atmosphere is then divided into millions of one cubic kilometer blocks, then numerical simulations are used to calculate high-resolution forecasts. 

2. MRI & Tomography

If you study it deeply, you will understand why math is important in our day-to-day life. It is not only in technical fields, but it has applications in science as well. For instance, it is used in MRI and tomography techniques. 

MRI machines take lots of pictures of the body from different angles to make 3D images or snapshots. Putting all these pictures together to create a 3D model is called tomography. Math, like Radon Transforms, plays a significant role in making this possible. So, math is really important in helping doctors save lives.

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3. Wireless Connections

The Internet and phone networks are huge systems that let people share data, such as websites or calls. All users are linked by connections, each with its own capacity. When you make a call or visit a website, operators have to figure out how to connect you and the other person without overloading any link.

Mathematics, especially queuing theory, is important for ensuring a dependable service. Using mathematical models based on things like Poisson processes, operators can make sure you'll hear a dial tone when you call someone.

Routing internet connections is trickier because requests come in at different rates and durations. So, they came up with packet-switching, breaking data into small bits called "packets" that can travel independently. This makes the network stronger and faster, but sometimes routers get overwhelmed with too many packets, which causes the connection to drop.

Some people think that using Fractals could lead to an even better internet in the future, making it more reliable.

4. Epidemic Analysis

We all remember the time of COVID-19 when we were confined to our homes due to the fatality of the disease. But, without math, we cannot predict any imminent epidemic. 

When a new epidemic begins, it might seem like it will never end because new cases keep popping up. But math tells us otherwise. 

The critical thing to look at is the reproductive ratio, called R0. This number explains how many people, on average, are affected by the disease. If R0 is less than 1, the epidemic will fizzle out. But if R0 is greater than 1, the epidemic will keep spreading.

Knowing the value of R0 helps us plan how to control the epidemic. Especially when resources are limited, like not having enough vaccines for everyone, the goal is to use those resources to bring R0 down below 1.

5. Mapping The Earth

Mapping our round Earth onto a flat map is a challenging task. Some parts need to be changed to fit them onto a flat surface, which can stretch or squish them. But math comes to the rescue here as well.

Cartography, the science of making maps, tackles this challenge. There are various map projections designed to handle this problem of turning our 3D Earth into a 2D map, including spherical and hyperbolic geometry.

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6. Coding CDs and DVDs

A lot of us used to use CDs and DVDs a decade ago when they were popular, but you might have not heard of this application of math before.

CDs and DVDs store data using tiny bumps and dents on their surface (hills and valleys), each smaller than a human hair. If these get scratched or dusty, they can mess up the data and make the disc not work properly.

But this application of maths in real life saves the day! Reed-Solomon codes are used to encode the data on discs. These codes are cleverly designed so that even if some of the data is wrong or missing, computers can still figure out what it should be and fix it. 

This only works if some of the data is still okay, though. So, if a CD is too scratched up, it won't work.

7. Glacier Melting

Climate change is a major challenge for us all, and one big concern is the melting of the polar ice caps, which affects global sea levels and the temperature of the Earth.

Satellite images can only tell us so much about the ice caps and how they're melting. But by using probability and statistics, scientists can analyze environmental data, like ice thickness and composition.

On top of that, scientists use complex math models involving concepts like differential equations and thermodynamics to understand how wind, ocean currents, and heat transfer interact with the ice. These concepts help them understand the details of climate change,  and then they can find ways to tackle these issues.

8. Cosmology

Cosmology is the study of the origin of our universe and its evolution over time. Math helps us model this journey from the Big Bang to now and even predict what might happen in the future.

The universe is expanding fast, and we can understand this using equations like the Friedmann Equations, which come from Einstein's theory of gravity. What happens to the universe depends on how much matter and energy it contains. Astronomers think there's stuff we can't see directly, called dark matter and dark energy.

Mathematicians also use supercomputers to simulate what happened right after the Big Bang, giving us insights into the early universe.

9. Carbon Dating

Carbon dating is a method used to determine the age of once-living organisms by measuring the amount of a radioactive form of carbon, carbon-14, remaining in their fossils. Living organisms accumulate carbon, including a small amount of carbon-14 and when they die, it starts to decay at a steady rate.

By measuring the remaining carbon-14 and knowing the original proportion and decay rate, scientists can use math to figure out how long it's been decaying. This helps determine when the organism died.

Math is also useful in other parts of archaeology. For example, the size of bones can be used to calculate the weight they support, giving insights into the size of the animals or humans they belong to.

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10. Search Engines

The internet is a massive resource, and search engines like Google make it simple to find what you need quickly.

To rank websites and show the most helpful ones at the top, Google uses a huge matrix that represents all the pages on the internet. This matrix considers how sites are linked together. Math concepts like linear algebra, probability, and graph theory help identify the most popular sites.

But Google doesn't stop there. Math is behind many other features, like giving directions in Maps, filtering out spam in Gmail, recognizing voices on Android, scanning books for text, compressing videos on YouTube, spotting faces in images, and translating text.

11. Finance and Budgeting

In finance, traders deal with buying and selling stocks, commodities like oil and gold, and derivatives, which are basically virtual goods whose prices are based on other things. For example, you might buy options, giving you the right to buy or sell a stock at a set price in the future if you choose to.

Financial analysts use a variety of math tools to make smarter decisions. They analyze past economic data using statistical models, and they use probability and stochastic calculus to forecast how financial markets might behave. 

One well-known tool is the Black-Scholes equation, a type of partial differential equation used to figure out the right value of derivatives.

Using 3 Common Math Concepts in Real Life

1. Fractions

Daily, we use numerous examples of fractions in real life but we don’t ponder over it.

Have you ever hit the snooze button of your alarm before getting up, and calculated the number of minutes you still have left to sleep?

It involves fractions.

You might think you don’t understand fractions, but you use them daily. Another example is dividing the sum of money between different accounts, sharing 5 cookies among 7 people, and making a study timetable while breaking your day into hours and quarters.

When cooking twice or thrice a day, it is very likely that you use the concept of fractions at least once. Like, when a recipe calls for ¾ of a cup of sugar, and all you have is  ¼ cup measuring cup, what will be your next step? 

2. Trigonometry

Although it might not be used daily, there are numerous real-life applications of trigonometry. 

In healthcare systems, sine and cosine functions of trigonometry are used to detect diseases in human body. Tisses in our body emit electromagnetic waves in presence of magnetic or electric fields which are then detected by MRI or CT scans as represented by sin and cosine functions.

Trigonometry has its functions in navigation as well. It is used to find the distance and horizon after placing the compass in the right direction. Moreover, trigonometry is used in finding angles, the distance between two points, and the heights of objects.

Relevant Read: Trigonometric Ratios – Definition, Formulas, Table and Problems

3. Pythagoras Theorem 

We all remember Pythagoras theorem from high school and wonder,

When will I ever apply this topic in real life?

Well, it’s used by hikers and mountaineers to find the steepness and slope of a hill or a mountain. In construction, laborers use it to calculate the steepness of the staircase required according to the space. Painters also use it to paint high buildings or walls by determining how far a ladder should be kept so they don’t tip over.

One cool application of the Pythagoras theorem is in artificial intelligence. It is used in face recognition features of security cameras by calculating the distance between the person and the camera. Then, the scene's dimensions are used to calculate the number of pixels representing the culprit’s face.  

10 Uses of Math in Our Daily Life

Now, let’s talk about some specifics. You may ask this question yourself multiple times a day (if you hate math): 

Why is Math important?

Well, maths in real life is used in various ways and contexts that you might overlook unknowingly. For instance, on a very usual and mundane day, you may have used Math multiple times.

  • Cooking — measuring ingredients and distributing food items.
  • Shopping — budgeting, finding the best deals, and calculating discounts.
  • Driving — calculating speed, fuel consumption, time, and distance.
  • Home decoration and remodeling — buying design and construction stuff and placing it properly using perimeter and area calculations.
  • Sports — understanding the direction and angle of the ball and making a run around the track.
  • Music and dancing — recognizing musical patterns, understanding rhythms, and creating a melody based on consonance among tones.
  • Exercising— calculating repetitions, time, measuring weights, and designing diet plans based on calories
  • Technology — computer and phone algorithms use linear algebra and calculus to complete commands.

Wrap Up!

We have discussed some unexpected and fascinating maths facts you probably had not heard of before. With all its complications, it remains the most advanced field of study. So, if you want to pursue a career which requires basic math skills, hire an online math tutor to help you, or practice your word problems daily.

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With over 3 years of experience in teaching, Chloe is very deeply connected with the topics that talk about the educational and general aspects of a student's life. Her writing has been very helpful for students to gain a better understanding of their academics and personal well-being. I’m also open to any suggestions that you might have! Please reach out to me at chloedaniel402 [at]