Math in Life

In my younger years I used to be a competitive road cyclist and coach. People wonder how math is used in sports and I tell them that I used it all the time. One example was setting rider’s saddle heights. The most common formula was to take their inseam measurement and multiply it by 0.883. Then depending on the stack height of the rider’s pedals and shoes the height would be adjusted slightly. To get more scientific with it I would measure their leg angle at the bottom of the pedal stroke using a goniometer, which was basically a large protractor. Then I would look at the angle from full extension (180 degrees). If this angle was 25 to 35 degrees from full extension they were in the sweet spot. I would then make micro adjustments based on injury history and goals.

Math is useful in other aspects of life as well. I’ve seen a thing go around on Facebook about the CEOs of health insurance companies having high salaries. They do have very nice compensation and it is up to you to decide whether or not they deserve it but the implication was that the high salaries were why your insurance rates were increasing so much. Having a mathematical background I quickly realized that this was nonsense. Figure it out for yourself though. Find the compensation the CEO for your plan receives, then divide that by the number of people paying for your plan. You will quickly see that an extremely small amount of your health insurance payment goes towards their salary (maybe a few cents per month). It certainly doesn’t account for the raises in health insurance costs.

You can also use math to check polling methods. Some polls are better than others. You want to have your sample representative of the population you are polling. Sometimes, like in a presidential election, you may want to over sample a certain segment of the population to see how your party is doing with certain voters. In that case over sampling a smaller segment of the population is good. It doesn’t work so well though when you’re trying to get insight into the larger population.

Aside from politics you use math for many everyday things like calculating a tip, budgeting your expenses, calculating driving time, comparing diets, etc. Maybe you don’t realize it but you are using math to budget the time you have for fun things like reading this blog. Food for thought …

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