Engineering demands accurate mathematics. But in this imperfect world, engineers have to use approximations and common sense.
An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician were travelling on a train in Scotland. They passed a flock of mostly black sheep, which included just two white sheep. The engineer said: “I see there are some white sheep in Scotland.” The physicist replied: ”You don’t have enough information to say that. All you can say is that there are at least two white sheep in Scotland.” The mathematician responded: “You can’t even say that. You can only say there are at least two sheep in Scotland that are white on at least one side.”
This difference in attitude is illustrated by the way these professions use numbers. For most engineering calculations, expressing π as 3,14 is good enough, but a physicist requires at least six decimal points. Mathematicians do not convert π to a value; they say it is an irrational number, so it cannot be written accurately as a fraction.
Here are some other differences:
• Engineers think that equations are an approximation to reality and use them to make decisions when designing objects.
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June 7, 2019