people should try to understand Algebra

I’ve never understood other people’s inability to cope with Algebra.

It is, after all, just a form of shorthand, simpler than that which the majority of young girls learned as part of their education, in Secondary School (prior to the Comprehensive system).

Consider this alleged brain-teaser, from Mensa:

At a leisure centre, Four times as many people are doing Zumba as playing Badminton . 25 more people are Swimming than playing Badminton. And Five fewer people are doing aerobics than are swimming. Thirty people are doing Aerobics. How many people are doing each of the other activities?

Now this problem doesn’t really need Algebra, to work it out, but Algebra allows you to do your working on paper without wasting ink.

Consider the statement

“Four times as many people are doing Zumba as playing Badminton”

this can be put in a shorthand form as:

“Number of people doing Zumba” is 4 times “number of people doing Badminton

Or/ Z = 4 x B

Or/ Z = 4B …………………………………………..Equation (1)

(note: “is” has become an “= “sign.  Our sentence has become an equation but its sense is still the same )

Similarly

25 more people are Swimming than playing Badminton

becomes:

S = B + 25 ……………………………………………………………..Equation (2)

And “Five fewer people are doing Aerobics than are Swimming

becomes

A = S -5………………………………………………………………. Equation (3)

Lastly,

“Thirty people are doing Aerobics”

becomes;

A = 30 ………………………………………………….Equation (4)

If the number of people doing Aerobics is 30 (Eq’n 4) then, using Equation (3), the number of people swimming is 35.

In Algebra we’d say substitute for A from Equation (4), into Equation (3) and we get;

30 = S- 5

So

5 + 30 = S

Or

S = 35

Eq,n 2 has an S in it so we substitute our new value for S in it and we get:

35 = B + 25

So/ B = 35 -25

i.e. B = 10

lastly, we can substitute for B in Eq’n 1 to get:

Z = 4 x 10

Z = 40

This seems a long winded way of attacking a simple problem but once you get into the practice of turning English sentences into Algebraic equations (sentences in Math-speak) you will have learned a language that is understood by Mathematicians of all nations.

It is a truly Global language and is not difficult to pick up.

Better still, you will be able to delve further into Maths, Engineering, the Sciences and the pseudo –Sciences.

The last are particularly important, because these are often used by the people, who try to deceive you with meaningless Maths, distorted Graphs and Statistics, an excessive use of acronyms and words, which use bits of Greek and Latin smashed together to make new longer words. (useful here to learn various suffixes and prefixes )

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