Purpose of learning algebra
Date: Around 1995
What is the use of learning algebra, how can we use it in the real world
with a normal job (not teaching)?
It depends on what you consider to be a normal job. For many unskilled jobs
(fewer and fewer of these seem be available) at minimum wage, you could
probably get by without algebra. Basically, algebra is the technical
language of science. The more scientific a field of work becomes, the more
mathematics gets to be a part of the job. This includes almost every
technological field today which includes manufacturing, medicine, etc. And
many historically non-technological fields involve more and more mathemati-
cal formulas or models (algebra describes them) than before. For example,
students of psychology, social sciences, or any area where data and statis-
tics are analyzed must be fluent in algebra and often in even higher level
While I agree with the previous response, I think that our schools
could do more to show you how algebra is actually used, instead of just
teaching a bunch of rules. Here is a quick algebra problem for you:
My neighbor and I share a small backyard swimming pool. We each have a
hose that we can use to fill the pool. His hose fills the pool in 6 hours,
mine fills it in 4 hours. How long does it take when we use both hoses?
Here is one; if you are standing 5 feet from the bottom of a building, and
by using a surveyor's transom you can measure the angle from the ground to
the top of the building to be 60 degrees, how high is the building?
(this one requires both algebra AND trigonometry).
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Update: June 2012