Algebra Use Math
Does architects,engineers, and stock brokers use algebra?
Architects, engineers, stock brokers (and let's not forget scientists) use
algebra in so many ways and so frequently that they/we don't even stop the
think about it (I know that is difficult for a student in Algebra I to
believe that, but it's true.). Here are a couple of examples: Solving most
any formula for area, volume, length. If the length of a rectangle is six
times the width and the area is 37 square meters, what is the length and
width? If a stock broker earns 5% per share for selling stock A and 3.5% for
buying stock B and a customer wants to sell 100 shares of stock A and buy
250 shares of stock B, how much will the stock broker make on the
Algebra is a form of mathematics that allows you to work with unknowns. If
you do not know what a number is, arithmetic does not allow you to use it in
calculations. Algebra has variables. Variables are labels for numbers and
measurements you do not yet know. Algebra lets you use these variables in
equations and formulas. You can then use these equations to find out things
like how two numbers relate to each other, perhaps which one is larger,
without ever actually knowing what they are. Another common thing that
professional people need is cost.
An architect may not yet know how tall a bridge must be. He can find the
cost of the bridge as a function of height. He can determine many things in
terms of whatever the height will be. This will in turn tell those building
the bridge what the limits on height are in terms of these other things.
This prevents the bridge from being too high or too low. An engineer may
need to know how important measurements will be to the results of their
work. If algebra shows that a unknown certain quantity does not actually
affect the results, then the engineer does not need to find a way to measure
it. A stock broker may need to know how the price of one stock will affect
the price of another. Such relations may tell him which he should buy
first, or whether he should wait another week before buying the stocks.
Much of the learning one does in such professions is based on relationships
between various quantities. A relationship in physics is:
Distance traveled=(initial velocity)x(trip time)
Remembering such a relation can be quite confusing. Writing it down is
truly a pain. Algebra allows for a short hand relation, sometimes called a
Formulas make taking notes and using relationships much quicker and easier,
with far fewer mistakes. Learn algebra well.
Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College
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Update: June 2012