Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Mathematical language in the news

When I heard one of the reporters on BBC radio 4's early news programme saying "X will be a subset of Y" today, the words grabbed my attention. Hearing the language of mathematics used in such a context is unusual. The story concerned the UK government's plans to be "Greener" and the reporter actually said:
"UK economic policy will be a subset of green planning".

To mathematicians, subsets are well defined, so all of X will be in Y; there may be items of Y that are not in X, but no items of X will be outside Y. The implication is that all UK financial planning will have to be seen as part of the desire to preserve the environment. As an O.R. person, it is interetsing to see that politicians are recognising that the "System" in which they plan has enormous boundaries. That must be forthe good.

But I don't foresee the Government's chief economist being replaced by an environmentalist for a little while yet.

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