Abstration is what is, essentially

At the heart of the appeal of math for many people lies an ability to abstract the world, to remove every extraneous detail to get to what is, essentially. Mark Chu-Carroll, the blogger behind the popular blog Good Math, Bad Math is more direct: "no math, no music."

When a scientist tries to analyze something about the world, to understand how it works, and describe it in a way that tells us something important about how things behave - they're doing math. They're abstracting the world to come up with a precise, formal, descriptive way of stating what they've learned...

When a jazz musician improvises, part of what they're doing is math. For an improvisation to make sense, for it to sound good, and fit with what's going on around it, there are a set of constraints on it: on pitches, pitch progressions, rhythm, chords. Those are all abstract properties of the music, which are mathematical!

Just as music is not simply a series of notes played one after the other, abstraction is our reality tool because it permits us to get to what's essential conceptually, rather than procedurally. It's the skill that unzips the world's complexity and wonder.


Wikipedia: abstraction