Math says Wikipedia, is “usually described as a science that uses logic to examine self-created abstract structures for their properties and patterns by means of logical definitions.” If that's math, is math interesting? I think: No! I do not find myself, my science and my work in this description.
Why is doing Wikipedia so difficult with describing math? Certainly also because mathematics is so many different things at the same time. You could love the as popular as it is silly. . . ”-Comics by“ math is. . . ” replace: there is a playful series of 52 interesting, true, correct, colorful, diverse characterizations of mathematics, which together could result in a picture that of this living science, this artistic as well as craft subject, this playground, this basis of high technology and could do justice to this source of strange and fascinating worlds.
Math is. . . Emotions
Some love mathematics, others hate it, almost no one seems indifferent to it. But I think to hate “mathematics” is actually not possible, because mathematics is so many different things that you can't hate all of them! At most, they hate what is left of traditional ideas about school mathematics. According to a 2008 study by three British sociologists: "Students' views of mathematics contained one-sided and false images, often limited to numbers and basic arithmetic." So the fractions and Pythagoras? You can and may hate them! “Using logic to examine self-created abstract structures for their properties and patterns”? If that's math, then loving is difficult for me too.
Math is. . . Cultural asset
Long before the beginnings of writing, around 22,000 years ago, a young woman in a Stone Age settlement on the Ishango River in Central Africa made 11, 13, 17 and 19 notches one after the other in a small bone. It is the oldest mathematics find we know, it is now kept in the Natural History Museum in Brussels. Why 11, 13, 17, 19? Are the numbers part of a calendar? Or did you already know prime numbers back then? That seems inconceivable, many thousands of years before Scripture began. But culture begins with numbers and figures, with mathematics. And with a mathematician, because back then the men were hunting (assuming a traditional role model, but that would have been 22,000 years ago). Of course we don't know the woman, only the bone with the prime numbers remains.
Finds from the Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations, several thousand years old, document tricky calculations. Mathematics has been around since ancient Greece at the latest as science operated. Since then, mathematics has been part of culture, its development closely intertwined with philosophy and physics, with advances in technology and economics - and today with practically all areas of life from biology to communication. (Reading tip: Hans Wußing: “6000 years of mathematics”)
Math is. . . big problem
Mathematics deals with big questions: with the description of heaven and earth, with the course of liquids and the forecast of the weather, with the laws of numbers, geometry, in short, with almost all aspects of our world. And the mathematical problems that arise from the big questions are huge, persistent and complicated: "We mathematicians" have been working on them for several millennia, with gigantic results and progress, sometimes after centuries of struggle on very special and increasingly precise questions. And no end in sight. Liquids, for example, can be described using the Navier-Stokes equations - we have known that for more than 160 years. But do the equations also have solutions? This is one of the Millennium Problems of the Clay Foundation, with prize money of one million dollars, which is one of the reasons why it is definitely worth the effort. . .
Math is. . . large
Mathematics is a huge science, alive, diverse, active. The number of active mathematicians in research worldwide can be estimated at 100,000. Each year they produce more than 100,000 articles, which are recorded, viewed and assessed in the ZBMath database at FIZ Karlsruhe. The impression from school that everything is known in mathematics (at least the teacher) is definitely wrong. Mathematical research takes place in many different areas. According to the MSC classification of 2010, the mathematical research landscape is divided into 63 major research fields and these in turn into over 5000 individual sub-areas. And only one of these 63 research fields is “35: Partial Differential Equations”, and that includes the sub-area 35Q30 “Navier-Stokes Equations”. There is a diversity in this science that can hardly be seen from the outside.
Math is. . . difficult
Does that put you off? Anyone can understand mathematics school material with a little hard work, but science is much more than that. It also becomes an arena for extreme mountaineers who want to climb the highest peaks of intellectual puzzling, where the air of thought really gets thinner. But there are also many and varied adventure playgrounds. Math is difficult? Yes, that is part of it! And you can admit that and be proud of it. Like the Franconian fashion company René Lezard, whose men's suits are sometimes labeled “Unfortunately expensive!” were advertised. There's nothing apologetic about it, it's pure pride. For mathematics, “Unfortunately difficult!” Means: Big puzzles! Who dares? Who is scared? In his famous 1962 speech, with which he wanted to bring a man to the moon in the same decade, Kennedy said “We do things not because they are easy, but because they are difficult”. Those looking for challenges will find them in mathematics.
Math is. . . important
Why is there actually no mathematical industry, one might ask, just as there is a chemical industry? Quite simply, there is! Mathematical industry should be that part of the economy in which goods are designed, optimized and sold using mathematical methods - and this clearly includes banks and insurance companies, software and film industries, logistics and transport, as well as the automotive industry and railways. Everything full of math! Did they know that? This is hardly known to the general public. Banks and insurance companies have long understood that they depend on actuaries (actuaries). But in other areas the industry still seems to be driving the countryside like Rob McKennan, the truck driver from the six-volume The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy who drives all over Europe and it's raining everywhere - he's a rain god, but he doesn't know it . Mathematical industry, which does not know that it is mathematical industry, does not use the potential either! Almost every area of mathematics contributes to key technologies; conversely, hardly any industrial area can do without numerics and without optimization. Mathematical methods for business and industry are provided by university research in Germany; it is at the center of the agenda for various institutes, initiatives and research associations. Mathematics is everywhere today, even if it is often not visible in the product in the end. Big cinema z. B. nowadays always means “a lot of math” - even if the goal in the cinema is that Not to make visible.
Math is. . . art
Albrecht Dürer published his geometry book in 1525, the Instruction in measuring with compasses and straightedge - Geometry for artists and architects. Since then, it has been clear that art needs mathematics, is inspired by mathematics - and this in an infinitely diverse way, which leads from Dürer to the virtual worlds of modern computer graphics. Mathematicians repeatedly describe their discoveries with aesthetic categories, as objects of great beauty. Much of it is geometry, can be visualized, and becomes art. At the same time, fine art is always geometry. Mathematics is art, mathematics produces art - in very diverse ways. From Max Bill to M.C. Escher to Victor Vasarely much to discover!
Math is. . . something that people do
And very different people who have almost nothing in common, except for their enthusiasm for their subject. The study by the three British sociologists cited above describes British students' imagination of mathematicians as follows: "Older, white, middle-class men who are obsessed with their subject but have no social skills and no private life outside of mathematics." Do you know the cliché? Naturally! Is that correct? Of course there are the nerds who fit the cliché, and they too are part of the colorful picture of mathematics. But there are also the marathon runners, the dancers, the cooks and the gourmets, the pianists, the mothers and fathers, the poets and thinkers - a colorful people; and even more colorful than the selection of movie heroes that Hollywood has given us in recent years, such as the schizophrenic John Nash (“Beautiful mind”), the gay world war hero Alan Turing (“Enigma”) and the Indian formula genius Srinivasa Ramanujan ( “The Poetry of the Infinite”) and “Hidden Figures - Unrecognized Heroines” about three African-American mathematicians who played a key role in NASA's Mercury and Apollo programs - all real people with a biography that was ready for a film.
Why is it important how students imagine a mathematician? Because the talented 16-year-olds, who already enjoy math in school, may consider whether they want to become mathematicians later. You need contemporary role models, because mathematics offers a lot of perspectives!
Math is. . . a community
The German Mathematicians Association has represented mathematicians in Germany since 1890 - not only professors, but also students, teachers, mathematicians in industry and business, and many others who simply enjoy mathematics and therefore each other feel at home in the statement “I am a mathematician” or “I am a mathematician”. Welcome to the DMV!