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Article Summary: "When it comes to the subject of how mathematics is used as the basis for making predictions a common reaction among people is to shake their heads. Isn't predicting something that fortune tellers and magicians do they ask?"

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How does math help us make predictions?

When it comes to the subject of how mathematics is used as the basis for making predictions a common reaction among people is to shake their heads. Isn't predicting something that fortune tellers and magicians do they ask? Well, yes, but what stereotypical fortune tellers really do is make guesses that are not based on sound mathematical principles. They simply pull statements out of the air and hope they come to pass. Usually their predictions falter because they are not based on a statistical analysis of data. Predictions without a basis in math is little more than guessing and guessing is not reliable. This is why people who predict the weather, the outcomes of political elections, the decline and fall of a stock are often closer to accuracy than not.

When we say predictions we are not speaking about guessing because guessing is a haphazard way of trying to search for an answer. If you took a math test and did not try to actual figure out the problems and you tried and guess the answer you may be right or you may be wrong. The odds are, however, overwhelming that you would be wrong the vast majority of the time. So, it becomes important to actually figure out the proper answer to a question in the same way you need to use math as a basis of making proper predictions. Mathematical analysis is the component that makes predictions more reliable.

How do predictions work in a practical manner? They work in the sense that predictions are based upon a careful analysis of patterns which are essentially recurring events. Patterns can be found in languages, sciences and even the arts. The key to being recognize patterns can provide the basis for us to later make predictions based on our observation of the repetition of patterns and then making a subsequent prediction based on the data. Does this sound complicated? Well, it really isn't! Patterns exist in a number of activities including leisure pursuits such as fishing.

Predictions with math would be best referred to as forecasting which is making an educated guess based on recurring patterns of activity. Ok, let's look at this a little closer. Let's say that you are going fishing and you are using a casting lure. You make 100 casts and reel the lure in 100 times. At the end of the 100 casts you catch 4 fish. So it may be safe to assume that under similar conditions it is possible to repeat this 4 out of 100 (or the odds being 1 out of 25) when you go fishing. Of course, this may not be able to be repeated all the time but it can provide a clear idea of a credible prediction that is based on some form of empirical evidence.

Of course, there are other areas where predictions come in handy that are of a more serious nature. For example, in the stock market operates brokers will collect data about a particular stock or industry. Then, they will look at the common external factors that can manipulate how the stocks go up or down. (The stock market is, of course, based on dollars and cents which are whole numbers and decimal points) Again, the predictions are based on collected data and patterns.

Does that mean that math can provide predictions that possess 100% accuracy? No, it would be next to impossible to make a 100% accurate prediction. But, a prediction based on solid data can allow you to make an assumption that is as close to the likelihood of accuracy than not and this is clearly very valuable.