The power of mathematics

Updated: Jan 29

If you were a Martian trying to figure out how to get along on earth, you might think that the most useful thing would be to understand human beings. You'd be wrong. It is almost impossible to understand people; it's easier to model them mathematically.

What is mathematics?

Mathematics is a toolbox for thinking; an indispensable guide to the art of intellectual discovery. We should value it not only for its ability to bring about reason, and also for its practical power to transform big problems into small ones.

The ultimate goal of mathematics—to discover truths—is not the same as the ultimate goal of technology, which is to build things. But mathematics can accomplish technological goals too, by providing a way to make any giant task manageable.

Much more than just a conceptual framework or a conveniently rigorous way of codifying what we observe in the world, mathematicians take the fundamental properties of our universe and combine them in such a way that we can solve problems we couldn't solve any other way.