Math is an essential component of all scientific disciplines,1 and its applications extend beyond the realm of math.
There are numerous widespread applications of math in multiple disciplines of study as well as in everyday life. According to the Mathematical Association of America, “the future of math education and the discipline of math should not be considered in a vacuum but as an important tool for all science.”2
When we talk about math, we include both theoretical and applied math, which are equally important as theory and applications of math go hand in hand and have always been linked together.
One such area where math is widely used and is absolutely necessary to explore important concepts is chemistry. Without basic math, making calculations within chemistry can be extremely difficult.1
Most of us would have probably come across the use of math in chemistry, such as using ratios for mixing solutions and taking measurements for making dilutions. As children progress through their academic learning for higher grades, they will see the applications of math being used increasingly to explain chemistry concepts in more sophisticated ways, like using vectors to understand the structures of crystals. Therefore, the ability to apply math can be greatly helpful to children when learning chemistry. Math is present in almost all areas of chemistry, such as inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry, analytical, and environmental chemistry, etc.1
Let’s now look at how different math concepts are used within chemistry.
The Basic Mathematical Foundation
While most of you are aware of the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, how many of you are aware that they are also used extensively in chemistry? Calculating the molecular mass of components, volume, and other concepts, for example, necessitates these calculations.1
Elementary Topics Used in General Chemistry
In order to excel in chemistry, you must understand unit conversions, significant figures, summation notations, probability and statistics, exponents and logarithms, proportions, and concentrations. In most cases, these subjects overlap, so they are frequently discussed together.2
Chemistry Math Problems
These are the topics for which one cannot be prepared without a foundation in chemistry. Taking measurements, performing dimensional analysis, determining temperature, density, and so on are all things that cannot be done without math.3 Most of you are probably aware that scientists use a variety of equipment to measure matter, and these measurements are crucial because minor errors in measurements can have a significant impact on the research they are conducting. Converting units to other units requires the use of conversion factors, which are critical for constructing equality and relating to different units.The density of a substance is a commonly measured property that is required in most chemistry calculations, and temperature is one of the most basic quantities in science, with applications ranging from weather forecasts to advanced medical facilities.3
These are concepts and techniques that science students, particularly those studying chemistry, can use to apply to various scientific concepts. Basic trigonometry, algebra, graphing, calculus, and geometry are all concepts that can help with understanding and working on various chemistry concepts.2 It improves quantitative skills while also assisting with the conceptual understanding of derivatives and integrals, which are used in a variety of chemistry studies. While concepts like these are not a formal prerequisite for chemistry, learning topics like three-dimensional geometry can help students learn chemistry a great deal, even if they have rudimentary knowledge or experience with visualizing graphs in three-dimensional spaces.2 Applied math is crucial in both organic and physical chemistry, and it extends far beyond general chemistry.
Various operators, such as the Delta, Sigma, and Pi operators, are commonly used in chemistry to perform various calculations. For example, if the optical absorbance of a reaction must be calculated, the Delta operators must be calculated.1
These are just a few examples of how math is used in chemistry and what types of math are used to learn various chemistry concepts. Math plays a fundamental role in fundamental science, particularly chemistry, as was emphasized throughout this blog. The kind of math background that children have will give them an edge in graduate programs in math, chemistry, applied math, statistics, crystallography, biochemistry, and molecular biology, among others.
Interesting, isn’t it? Please leave your comments to share your thoughts about this blog and visit BYJU’S FutureSchool’s blog to learn more about the applications of math in other fields.
- Cunningham, A., Whelan, R., Grove, M., Kyle, J., & Pugh, S. (2014). Maths for Chemists.
- Flapan, E., Hemkin, S., Jorgensen, A., Robinson, M., Schrier, J., Seeman, N. C., & Simon, J. (n.d.). Mathematics and Chemistry.
- 2: The Mathematics of Chemistry – Chemistry LibreTexts. (n.d.). Retrieved May 26, 2022, from https://chem.libretexts.org/Courses/Furman_University/CHM101%3A_Chemistry_and_Global_Awareness_(Gordon)/02%3A_The_Mathematics_of_Chemistry