The Role of Math & Science in Technological Design

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Math and science play an important part in solving technical problems. In this lesson, learn how both of these fields are used in the real world to solve technical problems.

A Technological Design Problem

Imagine that you are the designer of a new product for a bit tech company. This new product is both a toy and a security device. It's a robotic dog that turns into a guard dog/theft deterrent dog when you aren't home. To design this new product, you need to make use of both math and science. And of course, your problem solving skills. This means, the more types of math and science problems you know how to solve, the easier it will be for you to come up with a solution that works. This type of problem is called a technological design problem, a problem that requires the application of math and science.

Math and science are needed to solve technological design problems
technological design math

Let's a take a look at how to tackle the technological design problem. For this new robotic dog, you need to come up with a way for it to analyze what it sees so that it can recognize between the customer and strangers, possibly thieves.

Thinking about it, you can already see how this can be a complicated problem. And in reality, face and object recognition is a complicated problem that is still being studied today. Although it has also improved in recent years with Apple introducing face recognition software in their cell phones as a way to unlock your phone without using a passcode or a fingerprint. You want your dog to have face recognition as you don't want it going up to and listening to any random person. No, you want this robotic dog to imprint on your customer and the family and friends of the customer. The dog should then deter anyone else from entering the home when the customer and family are not home.

Using Math

How can you solve this problem? With the use of math and science to help you.

What kind of math is involved? You'll need to work with statistics to determine how closely matching a particular person's face is to a two-dimensional picture of a person. There are different types of algorithms that are used to recognize a person's face. One method measures the distances between facial features such as the distance between the two eyes or the distance between the eyes and nose. After measuring these distances, the algorithm then compares them from the stored picture to the person standing in front of the dog. If statistically, it is a match, then the dog will be friendly. If not, then the dog will be mean and bark and growl. You'll learn more about statistics and other math concepts in other lessons.

Using Science

You'll also need to use science to help you solve your problem. Science is actually used to tell you how you should use your math.

For your robotic dog, you'll need to make use of physics equations to help you move the dog once the dog has recognized a person. If the person is the customer or family of the customer, then the dog needs to move in a friendly manner. If the person is a stranger, then the dog needs to move in an aggressive manner. All these movements require physics equations to get the right gear working in the right direction and with just the right amount of power.

Solving Technical Problems

Let's look at another example and how math and science are used to help solve the technical problem.

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