April is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month! The goal of this recognition is to increase public understanding of and appreciation for mathematics and statistics worldwide. This campaign for recognition began in 1986 as Mathematics Awareness Week with a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan. By my calculation, since math has so many numbers to count, they eventually had to extend it to the whole month!
I love math and I am proud to admit that I am a math nerd. Math always made sense to me. I prided myself on being able to see numbers and understand the complexities and application of math theory. When you think about math and how it influences our every day, it really is awesome. Numbers are everywhere: dates, times, measurements, rates, wages, discounts, claims, supplies, jobs, stocks, taxes, distances, music, art, sports data, etc. – just to name a few.
At TechFlow, we use math to make sense of data, discover trends, find relationships, and develop solutions. Artificial Intelligence uses a lot of math principles. Linear algebra, calculus, game theory, probability, statistics, logistic regressions, and gradient descent are all math concepts that are applied to Artificial Intelligence to make decisions. Similarly, machine learning is built on mathematics as well. Data science and deep learning are machine learning concepts that rely heavily on mathematics to solve problems. Vector calculus, probability and distributions, optimization, linear algebra, analytic geometry, and matrix decomposition are all mathematical concepts used to drive machine learning. Programming requires some math skills as well. Logistics and math are also intertwined with inventories, tasks, and tracking. Across our company, math is used to describe, analyze, and solve every task we deliver.
I love this example from Sheryl Haley, a Senior Program Manager at TechFlow who is working on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Explosive Detection Systems (EDS) Program that keeps our citizens safe while traveling:
“The contract I’ve supported for many years has a lot of metrics associated with it. I’ll admit I’m terrible at doing math in my head, but thankfully my finance background has made math in Excel my specialty. I love calculating contract metrics in different ways than is required to get to root cause of problems or identify incorrect data. For instance, an airport is complaining that performance is terrible but looking at the data a different way indicates that the problem is actually with just one equipment model while another is a rock star. TechFlow can then focus resources on solving a specific issue instead of addressing a generalized complaint. Thanks to the mathematical insights – the airport and our program function more efficiently!”
This so clearly illustrates why math is cool…and so critically important. The application of math is indispensable in medicine, computer sciences, space exploration, the skilled trades, business, defense, and government. Yet, despite the increasing importance of mathematics to the progress of our economy and society, enrollment in mathematics programs has been declining at all levels of our educational system. Thus, it is more imperative than ever that we spend the month of April celebrating math, its impact, and the usefulness of its study. Please join me!
Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.
— Shakuntala Devi