All in Agreement? Pt 3   no comments

Posted at 6:43 pm in Uncategorized

For someone with a legal background, mathematics as a discipline is not necessarily one that is easy to relate to.

On a granular level, it can be said that lawyers and mathematicians would seem to have a lot in common. They both rely on laws, proof and evidence and seem to spend a lot of their time finding definitive (or as close as possible) answers to problems.

However, on a conceptual level, there are many differences and trying to familiarise myself with mathematics has been an interesting task.

Mathematics tends to be divided into four areas of study; quantity, structure, space, and change (i.e. arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and analysis). There are also subdivisions dedicated to exploring links between mathematics and other field such as logic, set theory (foundations), the empirical mathematics of the various sciences (applied mathematics) and more recently the rigorous study of uncertainty.

Applied Mathematics

This area is essentially mathematical science with a specialised knowledge and deals with mathematical models typically used in science, engineering, business and industry. It uses these models to solve practical problems.

In the past, practical applications have motivated the development of mathematical theories, which then became the subject of study in pure mathematics, where mathematics is developed primarily for its own sake.

Although, applied mathematics has not traditionally been applied to the area of law or politics. However, it has been argued by J Wales Jr that:

‘Mathematics, as it is generally taught, justifies itself on the basis of its applicability in the worldly circumstances which are the focus of the application at hand. Such a belief does not encourage the student to investigate the limitations of mathematics to the situation being examined’

That we should:

‘Let mathematics be, just as other disciplines are, the pursuit of ways of seeing, the pursuit of visions. We should teach our students to look for mathematical analogies, to delight in them when they find them, to stretch them and test them’

Because the applications of mathematics:

‘are in fact analogies which often appear as metaphors’.

Therefore, although mathematics may seem an interesting choice in relation to the issue of content on the web, testing the boundaries and limitations of mathematics as a discipline is in fact, what many academics advocate.


Jack V. Wales, Jr. ‘Mathematics and Its Application’, From the book ‘Essays in Humanistic Mathematics’ by Alvin M. White

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Written by Emma Cradock on November 5th, 2013

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