By Virgilio Y. Prudente, Creator of MATH-Inic
Published by VYP MSC Solutions Corp
Michael L. Tan, DVM, Ph.D.
Chancellor, University of the Philippines – Diliman
“What I see in this book’s collection of ‘Tricks’ is practical Algebra. They will be important for our children… ensuring that they understand math before calculators and computers come in”
Cielito F. Habito, Ph.D, PSHS Batch ’70 (Pisay Dos)
Former Director-General, National Economic and Development Authority
Former Socio-Economic Planning Secretary during the Ramos Administration
Ever felt jealous of people who seem so much at ease with, and thrive in dealing with numbers? From our very first year as classmates in the Philippine Science High School, in what was known back then as “Zero Year” in the school’s original five-year curriculum, I had known Virgilio “Ike” Prudente Jr. to be that kind of person – a math whiz who seemed to think and breathe math. He was clearly very comfortable with numbers, and quickly became our math teacher’s pet for the math genius he truly was. I envied how he seemed to effortlessly breeze through math concepts and exercises that were a particular challenge for me. He would not only immediately catch on to new math concepts (oh how I dreaded those binary number operations we were made to do then!), but he actually looked like he was having fun!
Now I know why. Little did I realize then that there’s a special intelligence or aptitude that seems to come naturally, even automatically, to mathematical minds like Ike has (that I certainly don’t). I suspect he was born naturally equipped in his God-given intuition with some of the math tricks and short cuts he generously shares in this book already built in. But what is heartening to me – and should be encouraging to others, young or old alike – is his own indication that he picked up many of the tricks from other people or publications through the years. In other words, there is hope for today’s young children and for those of us not necessarily born with mathematically adept minds, to attain the same math aptitude that the rest of us can only marvel about in people like Ike. And it just takes mastering simple but surprisingly very useful tricks and techniques, 25 of which are so conveniently assembled here, for breaking down seemingly complex math problems into simple ones.
As my good friend Ike sent me the draft copy of the book, he wrote: “I thought that promoting these short cuts among students will have at least two desirable results: First, many will discover that math can be fun and easy, so that we can transform math haters into math lovers. Second, students will be encouraged to solve many problems mentally instead of relying on the calculators in their cell phones and iPads. I am sure that you will agree with me that the brain needs meaningful and constant exercise, much like muscles need constant physical exercise to develop. With less mental exercise among our students nowadays, we are seeing a continuous decline in their mathematical skills and competence. This surely has a negative effect on the intellectual capacity of our new graduates.”
I submit that more than students, all of us stand to benefit from being better able to handle simple and complex computations that are part of everyone’s daily life, and at the same time keep our mental faculties in shape. For this reason, 25 Math Short Cuts is a book every household should have, and should be read by all its members, children or elders alike.
Ike further wrote to end his note: “Maybe, in this small way, the book could contribute to our national development.” I could not agree with him more.