I have read some of these books, and surely I’m going to buy some others.

I would add:

Numbers. The Language of Science. By Tobias Dantzing. A Plume Book

The Factalist. Memoir of a Scientific Maverick. By Benoit B. Mandelbrot. Pantheon Books

The Theory of Numbers and Quantum Mechanics. By Hermann Weyl. Dover ]]>

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My dad uses simultaneous linear equations to calculate proportions of feed for cattle rationing, balancing things like nutrient requirements and cost.

My preferred ‘everyday life’ connection is Excel. Build a budget, say, but make use of an Excel formula wherever appropriate. The power is in the automatic recalculating every time an input value changes. Increase your hourly rate by 50p: see how your income increases: see if you’re still spending more than you’re earning.

We can do better than this “Make an equation to find what’s left when I take 20 from 30″ nonsense – it’s artificial and harms rather than helps the case for algebra. It’s like justifying chainsaw training by showing how you could use one to cut twigs. I love xkcd’s comment on this: http://xkcd.com/1050/ “The only thing you HAVE to know is how to make enough of a living to stay alive and how to get your taxes done. All the fun parts of life are optional.”

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