Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

The Ability to Analyze Problems and Issues Logically

Scientist labeling centrifuge test tubes
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Logical-mathematical intelligence, one of Howard Gardner's nine multiple intelligences, involves the ability to analyze problems and issues logically, excel at mathematical operations and carry out scientific investigations. This can include the ability to use formal and informal reasoning skills such as deductive reasoning and to detect patterns. Scientists, mathematicians, computer programmers and inventors are among those that Gardner sees as having high logical-mathematical intelligence.


Barbara McClintock, a noted microbiologist and the 1983 Nobel Prize winner in medicine or physiology, is Gardner's example of a person with high logical-mathematical intelligence. When McLintock was a researcher at Cornell in the 1920s, she was faced one day with a problem involving sterility rates in corn, a major issue in the agriculture industry, Gardner, a professor at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, explains in his 2006 book, "Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice." Researchers were finding that corn plants were sterile only about half as often as scientific theory predicted, and no one could figure out why.

McClintock left the cornfield, where the research was being conducted, went back to her office and just sat and thought for a while. She did not write anything on paper. "Suddenly I jumped up and ran back to the (corn) field. ...

I shouted 'Eureka, I have it!' " McClintock recalled. The other researchers asked McClintock to prove it. She did. McClintock sat down in the middle of that cornfield with a pencil and paper and quickly showed how she had solved a mathematical problem that had been vexing researchers for months. "Now, why did I know without having done it on paper?

Why was I so sure?" Gardner knows: He says McClintock's brilliance was logical-mathematical intelligence.

Famous People With Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

There are plenty of other examples of well-known scientists, inventors and mathematicians who have displayed logical-mathematical intelligence:

  • Thomas Edison: America's greatest inventor, the Wizard of Menlo Park is credited with inventing the light bulb, phonograph and motion picture camera.
  • Albert Einstein: Arguably history's greatest scientist, Einstein created the theory of relativity, a major step in explaining how the universe works.
  • Bill Gates: A Harvard University dropout, Gates founded Microsoft, a company that brought to the market an operating system that powers 90 percent of the world's personal computers.
  • Warren Buffet: The Wizard of Omaha became a multibillionaire through his shrewd ability to invest in the stock market.
  • Stephen Hawking: Considered the world's greatest cosmologist, Hawking explained the workings of the universe to millions, through such books as "A Brief History of Time," despite being confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak due to his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.   

Enhancing Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

Those with high logical-mathematical intelligence like to work on math problems, excel at strategy games, look for rational explanations and like to categorize.

As a teacher, you can help students enhance and strengthen their logical-mathematical intelligence by having them:

  • Organize a collection
  • Figure out different ways to answer a math problem
  • Look for patterns in poetry
  • Come up with a hypothesis and then prove it
  • Work out logic puzzles
  • Count to 100 -- or 1,000 -- by 2's, 3's, 4's, etc.

Any opportunity you can give students to answer math and logic problems, look for patterns, organize items and solve even simple science problems can help them boost their logical-mathematical intelligence.