By Adewale Kupoluyi
Over the years, what many people have discovered is that students generally dislike Mathematics. A number of reasons can be adduced for this, ranging from students’ mindset, teaching methods and available instructions. Apart from being a compulsory subject that should be passed by all students in order to advance academically in Nigeria, Mathematics provides a powerful and universal language that is appropriate when communicating ideas, reasoning and discoveries. No doubt, the progress of a nation is measured in terms of its ability to meet the yearnings of its citizenry while making concerted efforts to attain these goals.
Hence, sound foundational skill in Mathematics is imperative in the improvement of the how a nation intends to galvanise its various human and material resources for maximum results. Not only that, a good foundation in Mathematics enables students and researchers to develop self-confidence and positive disposition to life because of its originality. Mathematics, therefore, remains the language of Science, Technology and Engineering, as strides in these areas and their contributions to global development are made possible through the knowledge provided by this unique field of study.
An experience that would not be forgotten so easily was when an interaction occurred with foremost Mathematicians on what the subject-matter can offer the nations, especially now, when many students are running way from the subject. These useful tips ensued when a distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the University of New Mexico, Gallup, United States of America (USA), Florentin Smarandache, paid a visit to Nigeria and gave further elucidation on the applications of neutrosophic set, as propounded by him, a common area in the study of Mathematics. Professor Florentin Smarandache, a Romanian-American, who was visiting Nigeria for the first time, stated that the neutrosophic set and logic deal had three components: Degree of Truth-Membership; Degree of Indeterminacy and Degree of Falsehood-Nonmembership.
The Mathematician stressed that while neutrosophic probability and statistics were generalisations of classical and imprecise probability and statistics. According to him, the theory could be applied in Engineering, Finance, Robotics, Information Fusion, Medicine and Management, among others. For Professor Amidu Mustapha, “We welcome a great Mathematician in our midst. I think we should all consider it a privilege because the person in front of us is not an ordinary Mathematician”. Professor Mustapha noted that Professor Smarandache was a founder of a unique aspect of mathematics. According to him, “It’s not everyday that you see and converse with a founder of an area of knowledge, it is on that note I consider all of us to be privileged and fortunate”.
The Director, Information and Communications Technology Resource Centre (ICTREC), Professor Adesina Agboola, another Don from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, an institution that hosted the scholar, who is a co-researcher with Professor Samarandache on the neutrosophic set, reeled out his achievements in the area of neutrosophic theory, developed in 1995 and the theory of the fuzzy sets by Lofti Zadeh, developed in 1965, which he said were widely acknowledged and embraced in many countries in Asia. He added further that many books and journals had been written, based on the theory. Neutrosophy is a branch of philosophy which means the knowledge of neutralthought, which studies the origin, nature, and scope of neutralities, as well as their interactions with different ideational spectra. The words ‘neutrosophy’ and ‘neutrosophic’ were invented by him while books were also to the Department of Mathematics by Professor Samarandache. Before Professor Samarandache’s visit, another Mathematician from FUNAAB, Professor James Oguntuase, has argued that Mathematics had helped in finding solutions to problems, particularly, in the area of inequalities, which involved the celebration of average that help to predict stocks.
According to him, his research on Graonwann inequalities started in the early nineties during his M.Sc Degree. He noted that Graonwann inequalities is used to establish bounds and to find out whether solution exists for a particular equation, adding that if he sees any differential equation, he would know if solutions truly existed or not, so that the person would not waste his time. He noted that he has written about 15 books on inequalities, which were highly cited in important books and journals. Speaking further, Professor Oguntuase said that while working on integral inequalities, he also worked on the Graonwann Bellman inequalities, noting that the Graonwann started the work and later Belmar improved on it and later Belhari and it became Graonwann Belmar Belhari inequalities, according to him, he worked on both the rare line or the higher dimensional hardy inequalities.
Professor Oguntuase stated that research in Mathematics was for solving problems. He observed that they work in the area of analysis where they make use of theorems, statement of facts that is tested and proven, which is Pure Mathematics and is quite different from Applied Mathematics. He added that the theorems propounded had helped to determine where solutions to problems lie. He expatiated further on the other reasons why he went into Mathematics research, saying that it helped to develop someone’s mental reasoning, it makes one to have a clear judgment that cannot be distorted. He observed that in Mathematics, one can develop something without knowing exactly where it would be applied, noting that somebody can come up later and carry out further research to find the application.
He added that George Boole who developed computer without knowing that he was developing computer worked on Binary digits, while somebody came later and found an application for it, noting that he is still credited as the pioneer. He added that when an engineer had problems in building construction, mathematicians will assist them in knowing what a particular beam can carry in order to reduce collapse of buildings or bridges. He noted that it is usually required that engineers should have good knowledge of Mathematics, adding that in medicine, particularly, in the area of mathematical Biology which deals with sickle cell patients, they can develop modern that can help predict when the next cries would occur, so that the cries can be averted.
He added that Mathematics was all embracing, as it helps in national planning, budget planning, academic planning, even for wives at home and in every facet of life. But I hope our students would truly believe this. After these discourses, I now asked whether students should still be running way from learning Mathematics. The answer is ‘no’. The issue with lack of interest in Mathematics is psychological. Therefore, all concerned should the make the subject attractive and appealing for all to study. Mathematics is indeed life!