When will I use algebra in real life?

Algebra can be polarising, but however you feel, it is certainly powerful. We use algebra everyday to find the answers to questions, and algebra is so important that it underpins our world, including most of the code that keeps our phones and laptops humming.

The basic concepts of algebra build on the maths you learn in primary school, and you can expect to be diving into algebra at some point in early secondary school. You’ll probably cover things like how to use algebra to calculate dimensions and find unknown numbers, and it can often seem a bit disconnected from the real world when you’re tackling problem after problem with no end in sight.

But algebraic concepts are really useful. This specific type of mathematics allows us to engineer giant structures, project future financial forecasts, and track the spread of diseases across the planet. Once you master the basics, you can use algebra in a huge range of ways both in your career, and throughout your life.

Looking for more proof that you’ll actually use algebra one day?

Check out these examples of algebra in real life:

Construction and Trades rely on algebra

Plumbers, carpenters, gardeners, and tilers all use algebra to calculate things like the length of timber or pipe they need, the amount of grout to order, and what volume of soil they will need. They will use similar formulas to work out what they need, and while they may be able to rely on calculators for some of the work they still need to understand how the fundamentals of the equations work so they can use them in unfamiliar situations.

The financial and banking sectors use algebra all the time

And so will you if you ever calculate your budget, work out a savings plan, or get a loan. Algebra is also essential in business – it helps us work out how much it costs to create and sell a product, then determine how much profit we could make, and we can use it to make business decisions about revenue and income.

Want to work in AI or Machine Learning? You’ll need linear algebra

Software developers and coders use algebra to work out the complex formulas required to design artificially intelligent systems that can refine and learn on their own. Even if you don’t end up using linear algebra in these fields yourself, it would be handy to understand how it works so that you can work effectively with the mathematicians and coders (plus you’ll look like you know what’s going on).

Nutritionists, nurses, and medical professionals use algebra to calculate growth

Medical decisions need to be made on data, and algebra helps us calculate things like weight gain or loss, body fat percentages, and changes in blood results so that we can make informed decisions about treatment.

For example, a nutritionist working with a patient who has spent time in hospital may use algebra to work out the right amount of nutrition the patient should receive, and then track their progress so they can adjust if needed.

How will you use algebra?

We use algebra in our lives all the time and having a solid working understanding of algebra means you’ll be able to know if you’re making the right decisions. Can you think of any other jobs that require frequent calculations? Think about the jobs you’re interested in, and then try to find out if any of them need algebra – you may be surprised at what you find.


More to explore