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 Study of mathematics in the age of calculators
Name: eileenb
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1995

Why do we study math when we have computers and calculators? Where did the name math come from? a 6th grader

According to one mathematics dictionary, the ancient greek word, "mathema- ta", is roughly translated as "things learned" or "the studies" and mathemata was used as a general term for geometry, the study of numbers, astronomy, and music.

The wide acceptance and use of computers and calculators makes it necessary to study more mathematics than ever before. Computers and calculators allow us to explore more complicated questions and find more sophisticated answers. We study more mathematics to learn how to ask better questions and to better interpret the output from our computing machines. Applica- tions of mathematics continue to grow in number and into new areas of study in society, business, and industry. Most of these new applications involve computing and large amounts of data. Before the computing can be done, the right mathematical models and proper methods of data collection must be decided and their are often many choices to be made. All of this requires knowledge about mathematics and related statistics. Sometimes the work needed to learn all of it may seem awfully boring and tiring but their can be lots of satisfaction in the accomplishment. Good luck with your future math studies in finding some excitement.


Computers and calculators cannot think for us so we have to understand how to decide what type of math computation is the right one to solve our problem. Calculators should help us to be able to spend more time thinking about problems and applications and less time pushing numbers around with a pencil. Eventually, a lot more credit will be given for making good decisions about what we should send to the computer and this requires knowing even more about mathematics and how it can be applied than we often study today.


Here is one that your calculator cannot do, but you can when you learn the right mathematics.

Find the value of 99999 to the 99999th power. My calculator gives me an error message when I ask it for the answer.


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