Me — Quick Maths

I love stats and data, as you probably know by now, but I’m starting to realize just how intrinsic it’s become to my personality. I do quick math in my head just as idle thoughts.

And before you think that I’m saying this to sound smart, it really is very simple, stupid math. Yesterday my work just got an order of a bunch of postcards, and I had to transport them. So in the few minutes it took me to do that, I did the math: 17 boxes, each box has 5 stacks of 100 postcards each. 8500 postcards. Sometimes I’ll do the math differently just to see which way is fastest. Disregarding the 100 because it’s just adding zeroes, is it faster to multiply 10×5 and 7×5 and add them together? What about multiplying 3 stacks of 5 by five, with 2 remainder? (In other words, 3x[5×5] + 2×5).

My production manager has started asking me “What’s A times B?” and I’ll do the math real quick while I’m doing whatever.

The weird thing is that I don’t consider myself to like math. The class I hated the most in high school was physics, because I would plug in all the numbers into the equations and I would still get the wrong answer. It’s worth pointing out that I didn’t have the best teacher, but nonetheless. I also probably would have hated calculus even more, but I never took it.

The trouble with higher maths, for me at least, is that it becomes too abstract too quickly, and the visualizations and the datas start to turn into meaningless numbers. I don’t like doing pointless things, so if I don’t know what foiling polynomials does, what am I really learning?

I think math is at its best when it helps you better understand things that you couldn’t have figured out with standard observations. I can know that most established authors are far older than I am, but I can’t appreciate that until I gather data on all my favorite writers and calculate the average age of when they were first published (32.9 years old, by the way). And that math is easy! You just add up all the numbers and divide by how many numbers there were! Now I can do something with that information—like breathe, because by that standard I’ve got quite some time to figure myself out and get published.

I’m always confused when people don’t share my love for data. It’s just cool to see and understand the world better through objective means, how can you not appreciate that? As somebody whose entire goal in life hinges on my capacity to know and understand, data gives a very simple and tangible way of doing so.

A post hit my Reddit feed (from r/dataisbeautiful, as it were) of somebody’s heart rate as their significant other left the country. They calculated what moments correlated with which spikes, and as I’m looking at it I’m nodding my head, thinking yeah, I totally understand that feeling of seeing somebody for the last time. That rush of “Oh, no”, is your heartrate spiking to an intense degree, so just reading this and comparing it to the rest of the graph is really interesting to me.

How can anyone not love data?

2 thoughts on “Me — Quick Maths

  1. More complicated math becomes fun when trying to plot out things for games! Trying to figure out formulas for damage calculations, drop weights, all sorts of things.

    Just this past week, our brother-in-law asked me “You just wrote down a bunch of random numbers? Do you like to write down random numbers for fun?”



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