Thursday, November 27, 2008

Become a human calculator

1097236_business_or_education The one thing I detested about mathematics in school was the way the education system made it so theoretic. Learning trigonometry or Calculus was anything but fun, and it certainly didn't appear to be practical at the time. Even today, how many times do you hear kids say, "What am I ever gonna use this stuff for?" Math is, in fact, the most practical science there is--from calculating the curve of an aircraft wing (Fourier math playing a big role here), to modeling financial forecasts (mathematic extrapolation), math is the very foundation for almost every device and technology we use. But for the majority of us, it really isn't a cause excitement. So wouldn't it be great if there was a way it could actually help our everyday lives: like giving us the power to be the fastest human calculator at dinner with friends? That'd certainly beget admiration points! Well, there is such a field of mathematics that can help you do just that--it's called Trachtenberg Mathematics.

Trachtenberg Mathematics was invented by a brilliant Russian mathematician named Jakow Trachtenberg while he was imprisoned in a Nazi camp during World War II. He devised a simple set of rules that can help perform relatively large calculations quite easily. Sounds too good to be true? Check out this excellent Web site that explains this technique with lucid examples. After you're acquainted with the basics, there's a handy little software you can download here, which will help you get practice on this technique of speed math.

On a related note, you could also check out a similar form of speed math called Vedic math. There a ton of information behind this Wiki link. Also, here's still another really fun way to multiply numbers by simply drawing lines on paper! See the video below:

Finally, check out this excellent online resource devoted to speed math here. Hint: The tricks taught by these techniques are a great way to put an interesting new spin on teaching the subject to kids! Math? Fun? Who could have ever imagined?


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