A lot of you might be thinking that math is just the study of numbers. Well, I am here to tell you that that is completely wrong. Then what is mathematics exactly?

We Don’t Agree (Yet)

First of all, as of yet there is no consensus yet about the definition of mathematics. But there is one thing that is certain, and that is that it is definitely not just the study of numbers.

Here is a poetic definition by Bertrand Russel. Mathematics is: “The subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true”

Sounds pretty cool, but a dictionary would never accept this, because they want necessary and sufficient conditions in their definitions. There are so many subjects where we don’t know what we are talking about, so that is not necessary to define mathematics.

The Philosopher Aristotle once said that math is “The science of quantity”. This is basically saying that mathematics is the science of numbers. So this is why everyone thinks that. Darn you Aristotle, you might be brilliant, but you have set us on a wrong path with this one.

The problem is that there are areas of mathematics that have nothing to do with numbers at all. For example grout theory, where we study structures and not quantity. There are even more branches that do not focus on quantity.

A Definition that Unites

I think this definition is really good by Walter Warwick Sawyer: “Mathematics is the classification and study of all possible patterns”

This one is really good, because it emphasizes the study of patterns. When we study quantity, and try to determine how certain numbers relate to others, we are studying patterns. But also, if we study how structures relate to one another we are also studying patterns. Math is basically the study of how things relate to one another, how they influence each other, and what kind of conclusions we can draw from this. This definition brings the other ones together.

Check out more information on what mathematics exactly is in the video on our YouTube channel.

Further Reading

For more information about this as well, check out:

Check out this article too on irrational numbers.


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