Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Purpose of learning algebra
Name: eileenb
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
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 mathematics.


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).


Click here to return to the Mathematics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory