Can you say ‘Asymptotic’?

Sep 11, 2007 by

Go on, tell me these aren’t some of the most beautiful real-world exponential graphs you’ve seen lately…

I was minding my own business, watching Chris Anderson (of WIRED magazine) discuss Technology’s Long Tail in one of the TedTalks (this is one of the things I do while I do mundane tasks like building PDF files and letting Camtasia build .avi video files) … when I saw some of the most beautiful examples of exponential growth and decay in graph after graph after graph.


If you’re teaching pre-calculus or calculus this semester, you’ve got to see this and use it in your classes. Personally, I’m sick of population problems and radioactive decay problems… and I bet our students are too!


Apparently, Chris Anderson has written an entire book about the “long tail,” that is, the asymptotic behavior at the end-life of a certain kind of technology, when it begins to approach “FREE.” The book is called “The Long Tail” and is available in bookstores everywhere.

If you want to read more of Anderson’s musings about technology and the future, his blog can be found here.

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1 Comment

  1. mathorphysics

    Wow – this is like one-stop shopping! So many of my interests are all here, in one place. I will need time to get caught up, and will likely go very slowly. Thanks for sharing all of this!

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