Confession: I love innovative services. Not only that, I also have an admiration for the power of mathematics. When both worlds combine, magic happens. And that’s just what this post is about.
Confused? Let me explain. So I have this idea that “the next big thing” is going to be software for cars. No, I don’t mean self-driving cars and other similar exotic innovations. I’m talking about simpler things: such as applications running in the car itself, using data from its sensors and inter-operating with both their passengers and street infrastructure systems.
Cars and potential innovative services
Basically, the whole thing reminds me of the time around 2003. The time when everyone was discovering the magic of having interesting applications for mobile phones. Despite the wonder, there was the problem of app distribution, as the developers were regulating which apps would run on mobile phones. Something eerily similar is happening with the car manufacturers.
We all know how the first problem was solved. Apple came up with their app store and revolutionized mobile apps. And I think something similar is inevitable for cars as well. Don;t forget, there are hundreds of millions of “app-ready” cars out there in the market right now. The opportunity is huge.
It’s all about the mathematics
The story continues. After talking with various people from different – but relative – backgrounds, I could not convince anyone. So I thought why not develop an original idea myself. If nothing else, it would be fun. So, after 17 years I am planning to, er, re-plan. Going back to school in many ways. It is obviously a slow process and rather fun for some business partners who are following me in my search in this new avenue of innovative services. But hey, where’s the fun in creating and building something if you can’t enjoy a laugh or two along the way. Even if it is at your own expense.
During this process, I have been impressed by the following: I found that in order to be able to make the difference, to develop something really interesting, it is not the technical knowledge that’s the key. Nor the skills that make the difference (programming, systems, etc.). It’s all in the mathematics.
Infinite calculus, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, logic, probabilities, calculation theory, algorithms. The cognitive objects that are necessary to capture, design, and ultimately implement interesting and innovative services today are all those things that as students we tried our best to avoid – like the plague!
Mathematics: the comeback
I understand that a student finds much more interest in programming than in mathematics. I include myself in this category, along with most of my fellow students when I was at university. Many of those fellow students now have excellent careers.
But I say let mathematics finally make a comeback. The above-mentioned subjects are what you need today, along with, of course, excellent technical knowledge and skills to develop the automotive applications I have in my mind – perhaps even for many other areas.
How easy is it for me, just before my forties, when I struggle to remember the basics of derivatives and integrals, can I go back into such deep water? I do not know to be honest. Maybe it’s impossible, but maybe not. I decided to make the effort and have time as my ally – for now. I will start from the very basics and I will move slowly but steadily. Because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if I fall a few times along the way. I can always get up again!
The engine is running
The advice I have to give to the students of computer science and related subjects is clear: do not be afraid of math. Not only that, look deeper within it to discover its magic. Yes, I agree, it is well hidden :-). The secret is dedication to the task in hand. Oh yes, and being your authentic self.
In other words, as long as your engine is running – and mine is – you can always open new, surprisingly creative roads. As for me and the innovative services for cars, perhaps I may struggle and give up. Who knows? But maybe I can surprise myself. One thing is certain, I’m no longer keeping it a secret.