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Electrical Engineering and Electromagnetism - How We Use Mathematics

Electrical engineering is about applying electromagnetism. Electricity and magnetism powers everything from homes to commercial businesses and industrial facilities. Electromagnetism is a physical phenomenon that everyone and everything is bound to follow, no matter where they are located in the universe. And we use a lot of mathematics in electrical engineering to create an electrical distribution system that's customized to your life. However, believe it or not, mathematics is not clearly defined.

How electrical engineers use mathematics in electromagnetism

Mathematics follows certain rules and constructs that describes how the physical world works. It's a way to describe:

  • How the mechanisms relate to one another,
  • How bodies interact,
  • How variables may react,
  • How structures may hold,
  • How change may be predicted,
  • How the universe and all of its matter work together beautifully.

Mathematics is Abstract

Mathematics can actually be expressed in many different ways. Let' use an example of language, English using Roman characters.

These characters you see on your screen are really just written symbols. They were created thousands years ago, in some other part of the Roman empire. Each symbol has a sound but alone, do not hold any meaning. For instance, the letter 'T' has no meaning on its own.

String them together and you create words that have a common meaning. The word 'treat' means something to us.

Now putting words together and now you can express our thoughts. 'trick or treat' had plenty of meaning to us when were kids.

The goal is to clearly transfer knowledge by using these common symbols that everyone understands when put in an ordered linquist fashion.

Francais utilise egalement ces caracteres romains, mais dans un arrangement different - French also uses the same Roman characters but in a different arrangement.


If we had the time, we could have expressed our thoughts on with other symbols such as Cyrillic, Ge'ez, Canadian Aboriginal syllabics or even Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Using symbols to describe mathematics

'Power up the world' in hieroglyphics (very rough translation)

Mathematics - Language of the Universe

Similarily for mathematics, we can use common symbols and constructs in our base-ten Arabic format. Using these popular symbols and rules, we can describe how electromagnetism and electrical engineering works!

If we were to contact another species from a different galaxy, their mathematical symbols would look radically different from ours but it would describe the same laws of the physics for which everyone is bound. Our fundamentals constants like the speed of light or Coulomb's constant would be a different value but the emperical measurement would be the same.

It would still be a form of mathematics, just expressed in another language with different symbols. That's why we say mathematics is abstract. How cool is that?!

Just as our thoughts are abstract yet expressible in English, French or other languages, so too can physics!

We use mathematics to describe how to use electricity and magnetism in our lives. Electrical engineers, in particular, focus on how to harness the laws of electromagnetisms to safely benefit our lifestyle.

Electricity and magnetism is very powerful and can cause a lot of damage and injury. With mathematics, we can predict what may happen and provide protection to keep property and people as safe as possible.

Humans didn't create the laws of electromagnetism but we have to follow them. And we can use our form of mathematics with these funny characters and symbols to make our world a better place.