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What Mathematics Can Do for You: Essays and Tips from Japanese Industry Leaders

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Despite the slow economic growth of the 1990s, now termed “the Lost Decade”, the Japanese economy remains the third largest in the world in terms of nominal GDP. With little in the area of natural resources, especially oil, and a small amount of tillable land, Japan is forced to import most of its raw materials. Furthermore, the Japanese population is aging; the low birthrate means that there are fewer native workers entering the workforce. Japan is the large nation most economically dependent on high value added manufacturing and the more efficient production of goods.

This book is a collection of essays by some of the leaders of the Japanese industrial machine where they explain how mathematics is used to drive the consistent improvements in the Japanese economy. Some of the essays are by mathematics professors and have a more historical theme while others are by industry executives and are explanations of specific ways in which mathematics is used in the making of specific products or to introduce additional efficiencies into the production.

The basic premise of the book is one that is often heard in the United States as well, “To continue to advance economically, future generations must be highly educated in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).” The difference is that Japan is the most descriptive test case for how economic success can (must) be achieved by the effective application of STEM skills. While the individual articles are interesting and of value, the overall message is a very powerful one in that all nations must heed it or be reduced to second tier status.

Charles Ashbacher splits his time between consulting with industry in projects involving math and computers, teaching college classes and co-editing The Journal of Recreational Mathematics. In his spare time, he reads about these things and helps his daughter in her lawn care business.

Date Received: 
Monday, June 17, 2013
Include In BLL Rating: 
Yoshikazu Giga and Toshiyuki Kobayashi, editors
Publication Date: 
Charles Ashbacher

Toshiyuki Kobayashi and Fujio Cho (Chairman, TOYOTA) 
A Dialogue between a Mathematician and TOYOTA's Chairman: Think, think, and think again

Yusuke Yasuda (BNP Paribas Tokyo)
Reasons Why Mathematics Is Important to Our Company

Yasuchika Hasegawa (CEO, Takeda Pharma)
Are Numbers Useful? Acknowledging the Contribution of Mathematical Modeling to Corporate Management

Norio Wada (Chairman, NTT)
Mathematics Drives the Economy

Kenichi Watanabe (CEO, Nomura Holdings)
The Role of Mathematics in Finance: Applied Mathematics and Risk

Atsushi Horiba (CEO, HORIBA)
Mathematics Is the Starting Point of Corporate Culture

Eisuke Masada (President, RTRI)
Mathematics Supports Development of Railway System Technology

Hirobumi Kawano (President, JOGMEC)
The role of mathematics in the petroleum and natural gas exploitation industry in Japan

Waro Iwane (President, Iwane Labo)
Mathematics in Our Company: What does it describe?

Kaoru Yosano (Former Minister of Finance, Japan)
Mathematics and I

Masahiro Yamamoto (Professor, U Tokyo)
Mathematics for industry - principle, reality, practice, from a viewpoint of a mathematician

Masato Wakayama (Director, Math-for-Industry, Japan)
Importance and Unpredictable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Real World and for Industry

Hiroshi Fujita (Professor Emeritus, U Tokyo)
Mathematics for Business and Business Leaders Based on Mathematical Intelligence.

Publish Book: 
Modify Date: 
Monday, June 17, 2013