Students Found to Use Pythagorean Theorem Daily


Written by: Erin Yao

“I thought trigonometry would be just as fun as the Pythagorean theorem, but it was just SOH-SOH,” said Abby Tuse.
Photo by Amit Roth

A recent poll by the National Organization for Math at All Times and Hours (NOMATH) found that the majority of college students across the United States do not implement math in their daily life. Students were asked a series of priming questions regarding their most recent math course, their stance on compulsory math classes in college, and if they could “meet any mathematician, dead or alive, who would it be?” They were then asked which math topic they felt was most useless in their everyday life. Answers varied from “finding the surface area of polyhedrons” to “calculating 15% of a total,” but the most prevalent answer was the Pythagorean theorem. “I just don’t understand why you’re meant to square something that is a triangle,” an anonymous student stated in the survey.

Since then, another survey has been conducted by the Pythagorean Theorem Association (PTA). “Actually, most people use the Pythagorean theorem in their daily lives,” said PTA spokesperson Isa Soleil. “Most people don’t realize that they are using the Pythagorean theorem until they take the survey.”

“One question asked, ‘How often do you cut across a field diagonally, rather than walk on the sidewalk surrounding it?’ And that’s when it clicked for me,” proclaimed student Rye Angel. “I do that all the time!” they continued, “I just don’t get what that has to do with math though.” Soleil claimed that commute time is cut down by an average of 345% when such shortcuts are taken.

Other survey respondents were “well aware” of the impacts of the Pythagorean theorem on their everyday commute around campus. “I believe we are using it just the way Pythagoras of Samos intended for us to,” student Abby Tuse reported.

After the release of the PTA survey results, self-proclaimed “mathfluencers” began sharing their calculation-based life hacks all over social media. “If you drive through a residential neighborhood rather than around, you can arrive at your destination much sooner,” Sal Lene shared. Tips also included advice like, “If you remember the quadratic formula, you will never forget the tune for ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’!” posted by mathfluencer Pearl Boa on Instagram Reels.

Other mathfluencers have applauded the Pythagorean theorem for providing an easy way to distinguish
between right and left. “In a pinch, a2 + b2 = c2 can be used to calculate if a triangle is a right triangle or not. After these calculations, it’s simple. A right triangle simply means that the direction the right angle points to is ‘right,’ while any angle that is not 90 degrees points ‘left,’” user Pauly Gon reported on X, formerly known as Twitter. The PTA has not currently endorsed this statement.

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