That’s So Rad: Why Solving for X in Math Class Really Matters

By Radhika Viswanathan

When you hear the word “math,” what do you think of? Long, complicated formulas? Frustrating maneuvers with a calculator? dy/d-what? How about the secret behind the human struggle?

Mathematicians at the University of Miami have found that a simple formula may ex- plain and predict the actions of many different groups of people. The formula, known as the Power Law, is AB-C where each variable is changed based on a particular situation. To establish this law, researchers used a hypothetical situation in which a weaker “Red” group is struggling to overcome a more powerful “Blue” group.

The formula is said to be able to apply to any human struggle from a child crying for a toy to a guerrilla group attacking the government. Some interesting connections have been found. For example, the formula has revealed that the attack pattern of traders on GE stock follows the same graph as foreign hackers attacking the U.S. electronic sector. The implications of this finding are tremendous. It will allow us to predict when attacks will happen, and will give us better ideas on how to intervene before such attacks become more violent.

It makes sense that mathematicians would be able to apply a basic formula to better understand problems that we face every day because math is all about creating simple explanations—or formulas—to explain complex patterns. Who knew math could actually apply to the real world? That’s so rad.

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