Category: College Algebra

Modern War follows a Linear Regression

Just watched an amazing 7-minute TED talk on The Mathematics of War where an interdisciplinary team of researchers (physics, mathematics, economist, intelligence, computers) figured out how to mine data from public streams of information to collect and analyze modern warfare. It turns out that when they began plotting the number killed in an attack with the frequency of those attacks, they found the data was linear. Not only was this relationship linear, but the same linear relationship then appeared in every modern war they looked at (with slopes that varied slightly). So, next they modeled the probability of an event where x people are killed. Finally, they went back to each conflict to try to understand the meaning the slope of the line.  It turns out that the alpha value (which hovers around 2.5) has to do with the organizational structure of the resistance.  If the resistance becomes more fragmented, it is pushed closer to 3.  If the resistance becomes more organized, it is pushed closer to 2. Anyways, it’s only seven minutes.  You should definitely watch it! Possibly Related Posts: Bringing the Real World to Your Math Class Every Day Taking the Algebra Out of College Algebra Group Exploration in Math Learning at Scale Slides from ICTCM Elaborations for Creative Thinking in...

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Mathematics of Coercion

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, a consultant to the CIA and DOD, uses mathematical analysis to predict the outcome of “messy” human events in this 2009 TED Talk: Three predictions on the future of Iran, and the math to back it up.  He claims that we can use mathematics to predict the outcomes of complex negotiations or situations involving coercion (everything that has to do with politics and business). His modeling is based in Game Theory, which (he says) is based on three assumptions that (1) people are rationally self-interested, (2) that people have values and beliefs, and (3) people face limitations.  The CIA verifies the predictive ability of the model, claiming it is correct 90% of the time even when the experts are wrong. To build a model of the outcomes, he says he need to know (1) Who has a stake in the decision? (2) What do they say they want? (3) How focused are they on one issue compared to other issues? (4) How much persuasive influence could they exert?  Using this, we can predict behavior by assuming that everybody cares about two things: the outcome (effect on their career) and the credit (ego).  In the model, you must be able to estimate people’s choices, chances they are willing to take, values, and beliefs about other people.  Believe it or not, history is not necessary for the...

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Murderous Math Tricks

I found this one while wandering about on YouTube.  The last “trick” would be a fantastic puzzle for a Trigonometry course. Murderous Math Tricks Possibly Related Posts: Bringing the Real World to Your Math Class Every Day Taking the Algebra Out of College Algebra Group Exploration in Math Learning at Scale Slides from ICTCM Elaborations for Creative Thinking in...

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Funky function notation

At the UMD faculty workshop, one of the participants had an idea for using an Animoto video.  She suggested it might be a good way to break up a long lecture time.  This got me thinking about short lessons (like the CommonCraft videos).  Just because the video is short, it doesn’t mean it’s not effective. I thought I would try out a short video of my own using Animoto.  This one is called “What is function notation?”  If the video doesn’t load for you, go directly to the site here or see the YouTube rendition here.  Either video can be embedded if you’d like to use them in a course shell. You might be interested in the process I used to build this.  For Animoto, you need a file folder with image files.  First, I created a deck of 75 PowerPoint slides (those being relatively easy to edit).  Then I printed from PowerPoint to SnagIt (because of a special SnagIt save option). Then I saved the SnagIt file as jpg files, where each slide is saved as an individual image file. This gave me a folder of all the slides, but with each slide saved as an image. I then uploaded the 75 images into Animoto and made sure they were in the proper order (for some reason the last slide fell first and had to be moved back...

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Common Craft Explains Finance

CommonCraft has three new videos about math (well, technically financial math). I wonder if they’ll tackle the Gaussian Copula Function next? Saving Money in Plain English Investing Money in Plain English Borrowing Money in Plain English Possibly Related Posts: Bringing the Real World to Your Math Class Every Day Taking the Algebra Out of College Algebra Group Exploration in Math Learning at Scale Slides from ICTCM Elaborations for Creative Thinking in...

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