If X=Y, What is a Derivative of Useless Information?


Hooray! Another successful day,  and not once did I have to use calculus!

What is calculus you ask? Well:


“… the branch of mathematics that deals with the finding and properties of derivatives and integrals of functions, by methods originally based on the summation of infinitesimal differences. The two main types are differential calculus and integral calculus .”

I know, hey!?! Pretty darn impressive….IF you happen to  know what ‘derivatives’ ;’ integrals of functions’; and ‘infinitesimal differences’ are….I do not.

Now, to be fair,  I have used trig and geometry many times. Recently we sided our cabin with cedar shingles and given the various roof lines, all of the maths involving angles and degrees came in very handy. They made sense when I studied them, and I find practical uses for them on a regular basis. Heck, along with the basic properties of physics, I used math to become a pretty decent pool player. I tried to apply the same principals to golf but wasn’t as successful.

I use arithmetic daily. Division, multiplication, addition and subtraction…at least one of these is pulled out and dusted off whether I am calculating square feet; converting those square feet to metres;  deciding how big a roast I need to feed six; how many kilometres I got on my last tank of gas; balancing the books of my businesses. It is a knowledge worth having.

Never once since high school have I had occasion to use algebra for any practical purpose. I still question the necessity of using letters and other symbols to represent numbers – unless you are doing a cryptogram – but seriously. Why not just use the number??? If 3x=15, why not just write 3×5=15? I don’t get it. Was someone bored one day and decided to make life for high school students a hellish nightmare by coming up with these ridiculous equations?


Until recently, I always believed that polynomials were various types of polyester fabric and an abelian was someone from Albania. The first clue for math teachers should have been that glazed look in my eye, and if they didn’t pick up on that, you’d have thought the drool running down the corner of my mouth toward my chin would have triggered a reaction….but nooooooo. No one noticed that I got lost on the road to the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Honestly, I don’t know how I have survived all these years, learned to sail a boat, fly a plane, read a balance sheet and time all the vegetables to be cooked at exactly the same time without any of this ‘magic’.

By the way, the only time I have ever used calculus or algebra since high school, was when I was enlisted to assist my children with their homework. I want to publicly apologize now. It was a dismal failure. Correction: I was a dismal failure.

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