Where Should I Begin

Should I start at the beginning?  Since every female fetus, including your mom, developed all the eggs she will ever have while this fetus was still inside of her own mom, where does your life actually begin?  People got along fine before the concept of zero was ever thought of.  Zero is a symbol that is used to represent the absence of a number.  Nothing can be divided by zero, because this would prevent sharing anything that is broken down into piles of size zero, thus it is undefined.  Zero is a number, while nothing is a concept depicting a void or absence of anything relevant.  Nirvana is the state of nothingness where all of your worries and desires go.  In this transcendent state there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and one is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth.  Indian mysticism, represents zero as a circle and it is round because it signifies the circle of life.

We have many different kinds of numbers such as, whole, positive, negative, zero, Absolute value, fractions, integers, decimals, mixed, rational, irrational, complex, imaginary, algebraic, transcendental, factorials, ordinal, cardinal and prime. The Romans ran an empire without ever knowing zero.   Zero was only fully discovered in AD 628 by Brahmagupta.  This invention became a game changer and it probably originated from financial debt.  Zero is the essential concept of every balance sheet because assets and liabilities (plus equity) must always equal zero.  Brahmagupta was able to figure out zero by thinking about accounting and when a debt was repaid that left a zero debt.

Calculus is the mathematical study of change, in the same way that geometry is the study of shape and algebra is the study of operations using variables to solve equations.  Rectangles and triangles are easier to measure than circles and if the whole world was made up of straight lines, then there would be no need for calculus, as calculus is the study of curves and things that do not change at a constant rate.  Calculus studies change, with its basic focus being on the rate of change and accumulation.  Calculus is used to study velocities, accelerations, tangent lines, slopes, areas and volumes.

The ancient Greeks created formulas to determine angles and area, but they struggled with lines that were not straight. Calculus can be used to describe how pretty much anything changes and it relies on the concept of zero.  Calculus works by looking at how something changes over a time period and everything will change given enough time.  Calculus allows you to zoom in close enough to any part of the curve, so it will become small enough to be approximated by a straight line.  Taking infinitesimally small chunks of the curve that approach zero size will give you nice neat straight lines, that are easy to deal with mathematically.

Descartes dreamed of merging algebra and geometry together and he is given credit for the invention of analytical geometry, which basically applies algebra to geometry.  This had been done before by other mathematicians, but Descartes gave us a new way of looking at numbers by inventing the Cartesian Plane.  He proposed that each point in two dimensions can be described by two numbers on a plane, one giving the point’s horizontal location and the other the vertical location, and this is known as Cartesian coordinates, although Descartes only worked in the first quadrant where the X and Y values are both positive in respect to the (0, 0) origin.

Written for Sheryl’s New Daily Post Word Prompt – Origin.

7 thoughts on “Where Should I Begin”

1. Billy Preston left us too soon. I dare anyone to stay in a bad mood while they’re listening to Billy Preston.

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2. What a cool and understandable way to describe calculus. I can’t remember ever reading it that way before. Really enjoyed this post!

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1. Thanks Paula, I appreciate your comment. Most people don’ get it and being an engineer, I had to take three semesters of Calculus in college and I had no idea what it was. I could do the problems, because I could see the patterns, but my teachers were all terrible. I wrote my third book So You Want To Learn Calculus to help students understand this subject.

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3. Numbers have a language all their own. When I worked in accounting it became clear. Mathematics is a specialized numerical language. My younger son is good at math like you.

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1. My mom bought me a lot of connect the numbers puzzles when I was young and this made me good at pattern recognition and that is the basis of most math.

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