Mathematics

Mike the Mad Biologist

Category archives for Mathematics

Recently, The New York Times published an op-ed calling for curricular changes in K-12 math education: Today, American high schools offer a sequence of algebra, geometry, more algebra, pre-calculus and calculus (or a “reform” version in which these topics are interwoven). This has been codified by the Common Core State Standards, recently adopted by more…

…don’t understand fractions. A recent Gallup poll asked people what percentage of Americans were gay and lesbian. The results? 52 percent estimated that twenty percent or more of the population is gay or lesbian: Keep in mind that most estimates put the lesbian and gay population at around three percent. While the Gallup pollsters and…

By way of Observational Epidemiology, we find an interesting NY Times article by Michael Winerip describing a seventh grade teacher’s experience with value added testing in New York City. I’ll get to value added testing in a bit, but the story also highlights why we need more reporters who have backgrounds in math and science.…

There’s a new science blogging collective in town: Scientopia. Some of the denizens will be familiar, some are new. Looks pretty cool though. I like that mathematics is a front page ‘topic’ (hint, hint, Seed Overlords). Anyway, stop by and check it out. And kudos to them for getting it off the ground.

Once again, some are making a big deal out of the second derivative, just as was done with unemployment numbers (Got Green Shoots?), when they shouldn’t. Consider this from an NY Times article about defense spending increases: Mr. Gates is arguing that if the Pentagon budget is allowed to keep growing by 1 percent a…

Since I’m at a Human Microbiome Project meeting, and don’t have time to write, I thought this post from the archives of Mad Biologist was appropriate: A while ago, I talked about some things biologists should learn, and the glaring omission was mathematical fluency. I bring this up because one of the things the Mad…

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is that our entire political class (both politicians and the mandarin hangers-on) still does not comprehend that the balance of accounts must sum to zero. That is, aggregate savings (all the stuff private entities, from corporations to individuals to non-profits, own) require government deficits (one…

Clive Thompson nails it when he describes the importance of statistical thinking (italics original; boldtype mine): Statistics is hard. But that’s not just an issue of individual understanding; it’s also becoming one of the nation’s biggest political problems. We live in a world where the thorniest policy issues increasingly boil down to arguments over what…

Nonoptimality in Viral Evolution and Economics

While I’m not that big a fan of the project trying to find commonalities between economics and biology, largely because I think explanations of specific phenomena often reduce to those stupid fucking natural history facts, I was struck by this argument by economist Samuel Bowles about the assumption of optimality in the supposed tradeoff between…

In short: seven long years. A few months, when everyone was getting all het up about the observation that the rate of increase in the unemployment rate (the second derivative) was decreasing–that is, more and more people were losing jobs, but more and more wasn’t growing as fast as it once was, that struck me…