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 Algebra applications
Name: doug moe
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1995

Recently I returned too school, and at the present I am taking Algebra. I am comprehending most of the rules, and stuff, but it has been a long time since I last learned it. Could someone please tell me how they use Algebra in they are job or whatever, so that I will know what to do with this stuff when I learn it too. Sort of like getting the big picture, if you know what I mean. Like how a tool and die maker or a machinist use trigonometry. What is Algebra mainly used for?

Algebra is used so much that we do not even realize it. Then, when someone tells us they have an algebra problem we think it is something new and incomprehensible. For instance, if you have $5.00 to buy lunch for yourself and a friend at McWendie's you have to decide how much you can afford to buy before you place your order. You check the prices of the items you are interested in and make sure the total (with tax if you want to be complete) is less than $5.00. Hopefully others will post business types of uses but I challenge you to evaluate what you do every day -- I bet you find a signifi- cant amount of algebra! (How much time do I have before I MUST leave if I want to meet my friend at McWendie's at 12:00. How much money do I need. Should I buy the SuperFries and a Hamburger or the Superburger and a drink, -- can I afford either one -- It is all algebra!)

gregory r bradburn

Machinists use geometry and trigonometry all the time. Mostly this is in the planning stages. The machinist either comes up with a design for what he/she is building, or an engineer gives a design to the machinist. The machinist has to be able to calculate all of the angles and lengths for each piece and cut them on the appropriate machine (lathe, press, or whatever) to within the specified tolerance. Without algebra, it is pretty hard to do trigonometry. after all, c^2 = a^2 + b^2 is the equation to solve for right triangles, and to solve this equation for a (for example), you need algebra.

I have done a bit of machine-shop work myself, so this comes from my personal experience.

Any technical profession (like machining) involves some math, especially if you want to be at the top of your field.


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