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Mathematics is the music of reason , UPSC Essay 2023

Mathematics is the ‘music of reason’


  • Similarity between Maths and Music 
  • Linkage between Maths and Reason 
  • Why Maths is considered as the ‘Music of Reason’
  • Way Ahead – Steps which can be taken to build Passion for Maths among young people

Similarity between Maths and Music

Similar to Music, to do mathematics is to engage in an act of

  • discovery and conjecture, 
    • Discovery of Pythagorous 
  • intuition and inspiration; 
    • Ex Srinivisa Ramanujan contribution to pure mathematics, without any formal knowledge, which led to many discoveries. 
    • His last notebooks just before his death caused excitement among Mathmaticians 
    • Aryabhatta discovery of zero
  • to be in a state of confusion— Do not know what your creation can lead to
  • to have a break-through idea; 
    • Newton contributions in calculus, technology of telescope etc and how it helped in Modern Physics
    • Recent research, in which Math models were used to gain new insight on how breast cancer metastasizes.
  • to be frustrated as an artist; 
  • to be awed and overwhelmed by an almost painful beauty; to be alive, damn it.”

Linkage b/w Maths and Reason

  • Mathematics is often described as a discipline rooted in pure reason. While it is influenced by empirical observations and practical applications, it is ultimately built on a foundation of abstract reasoning and logical deduction.

Reason why Mathematics is considered the ‘Music of Reason’

Requires Passion 

Continuous pursuit of Knowledge

Can lead to collaborations for greater good 

Inculcates logical Thinking and Reason 

Results in creation which stand the test of time

    • Provides Harmony in patterns – music of reason because it emphasized beauty of patterns, symmetry and harmony. 
    • Mathematical concepts underpin various technological advancement. 
    • Mathematical equation and concepts reveal the inherent order in the Universe. 
    • Transcends cultural and linguistic barriers → Universal language Understood by scientist, engineering and Finance
    • International collaboration in the above field takes place. 
    • Cultivates Problem solving skills and logical thinking → Helps tackle real world problems. 
    • Cultivates Reason → Valuable in decision making 
    • Foundation of Science and Technology →  Such as Physics, chemistry, biology 
      • Forms the basis of artificial intelligence, cryptography and data science etc.
    • Basis of aesthetic work – Artists, architects draw inspiration from maths to create work 
      • Ancient times – Jantar Mantar, 
    • Historical significance → Role of Maths in growth from ancient times to present era. 
      • Add examples – 
    • Economic Significance → Role played by Maths in economics finance, resource allocation etc. 
    • Role in Space Technology → Indispensable in Space exploration providing trajectories, navigation and orbital mechanics 
      • for example calculus is used to determine the rate of speed required for the spaceship to successfully reach space from the Earth. 
      • India’s achievements in space exploration, especially Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan), Chandrayaan 3 mission which was celebrated for its cost-effectiveness and precision in trajectory calculations, demonstrating the role of mathematics in space endeavours.
  • Educational and Skill development  → Provides Individuals with analytical skills and problem solving example of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) will help develop future professionals. 
  • Interdisciplinary Connections: Intersects with various other disciplines such as Computer Science, economics and Social Science. Thus, helps with Interdisciplinary research to provide Innovative solutions to the problems 

Way Ahead – Change in culture to make Maths be seen as an artistic pursuit

  1. Talk about why Maths should be taken as an intellectually engaged, artistic pursuits. 
  2. Take Maths as a a tool for collaboration (Similar to Music where artists collaborate example of collaboration in field of Space), persistence (similar to music work towards persistently finding new algorithms etc.), growth mindset (offer praise, nurturing the passion for Maths among student), Make students love Maths (stop the culture of hating Maths etc.) 

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