I was reading this well written article (How to Model Honeybee Colonies) just the other day and I got struck by the interesting way in which the author defines mathematics. More specifically he talks about applied mathematics and modelling. Here is a small quote from the article:

Mathematics is a way of travelling logically from A to B, where A is a set of precisely stated rules or axioms and B is a set of predictions logically arising from these rules. Mathematical modelling is the art of mapping the real world onto these sets A and B. These are the two basic components of applied mathematics. One part is an abstract, rigorous toolkit for investigating logical truth, the other part is an attempt to align that truth with a more messy reality.

Once we have worked out what aspect of the real world we want to study, we should map it into mathematics in the best way we can.

The idea got stuck in my head for a while. I like the fact that this sort of definition for maths doesn’t talk about patterns, or number, but about logical arguments and sets of axioms and rules. When I think about the word ‘rules’ I get a little shiver on my spine. This comes from a short conversation I had with a friend about the fact that mathematics is full of rules that not everyone understand why they are there and that while in school children use them with no proper explanation. But I don’t want to start this debate now, probably another post some other time would be better. What I wanted to say is that (omitting the word ‘rules’) I totally like this explanation.

Moreover, it leaves that exciting feeling that what ever you want to study from the world around you there will always be a way to use mathematics. I believe that this is just an important and wonderful concept. Also, leads (through logically arranged steps) to the idea that mathematics helps us understand the world around us and how it is composed.

I know this is a short post, but I had to share my thoughts with you. What do you think about the quote? Read the whole article and let me know what do you think about it, it might also teach you a couple of things about bees.

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