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Prof. Jeanine Meyer, Purchase College - The Importance of Math

Albany, NY – In today's Academic Minute, Professor Jeanine Meyer of Purchase College explains the everyday importance of a basic understanding of mathematical concepts.

Jeanine Meyer is a professor of mathematics, computer science, and new media at Purchase College. She teaches courses on game programming, robotics, and the creation of web applications.

Prof. Jeanine Meyer - The Importance of Math

At many schools, everyone is required to take a course in mathematics. Many students resist this, so our approach is to show them how integral mathematics is in their lives. If you have or plan to have a credit card or apply for a mortgage or purchase insurance or make investments some day, it would be best if you understood how such things work, especially compound interest. If you are counting on getting along by winning the lottery, you better understand probabilities.

Quantitative information shows up in news stories every day: taxes, job statistics, health care costs, polling, local, state and federal budgets, models of climate, and so on. The numbers, generally, though not always, are accurate, but the stories often are incomplete, frequently missing what I term the Ds: definitions, denominators, differences, dimensions, distributions and data sources. If you want to be an informed consumer and citizen, you need to be able to read, interpret, analyze and question quantitative information and this is what we ask students to do.

Similarly, most of us make use of computers and other digital devices every day, maybe even every waking hour. Taking a programming class provides insight into how these things work: how programs combine specification of logic, event handling, data and interactions to produce the near-instant results and visualizations we depend on. And it is calculus, invented about 300 years ago, together with super computers, improved sensing and databases, that brings us accurate weather forecasts, much appreciated this winter. As your comprehension grows, you may be able to be creative and make contributions yourself to an area involving mathematics.

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