I met a fellow math professor at a conference several weeks ago who is teaching a class on the idea of infinity. He told me of a story he tells his class about how difficult the idea of "infinity" can be. He described a class that a student wants to sign up for with an infinite number of seats. There are, however, already an infinite number of students enrolled, so each seat is already taken. A new student comes into that class, and wants to enroll, only to find every seat taken.

# Rosemarie Emanuele

## "Math Geek Mom"

Although she holds a Ph.D. in economics from Boston College, **Rosemarie Emanuele** is a professor and the chair of the Department of Mathematics at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. She loves to teach math but also pursues research related to the economics of nonprofit organizations and volunteer labor, and has published in both economics and interdisciplinary journals — as well as in the book that inspired this blog. She is the proud mother of a wonderful daughter.

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## Most Recent Articles

November 18, 2010

One of the reasons I fell in love with the field of economics was its logical progression, the linear way it tends to build upon previous concepts to uncover a consistent way of looking at the world. In many ways, all of knowledge does the same thing, building upon previous skills as one learns first how to read and add, and finally, to put it all together in discovering things about the world that require the synthesis of some very different fields of study. I thought of this recently as I enjoyed a musical production at my daughter’s school.

November 11, 2010

One way that economists commonly use statistics is to do “forecasting”, to take what is known about today and to use it to predict what will happen tomorrow. I usually use statistics in ways that don’t involve forecasting in the future, but instead to test for relationships in data from the present. Still, there are times I wish I could forecast the future and know how things will look years from now. For example, I wished I could have such a “crystal ball” the other day.

November 4, 2010

I remember a cartoon from my graduate school days that showed a cockroach-looking creature looking over the shoulder of what looked like a scientist working busily at a desk. The caption of the cartoon said “an Exogenous variable watches an economist at work.” I was shown that cartoon about the same time I came to the conclusion that there was really nothing in the world that is exogenous, or determined by predetermined forces.

October 28, 2010

I ran into a former student a few days ago who said that, since she took the required college math course, she is now better able to help her son with his homework. I had to laugh, because I often get into struggles with my own daughter about whether to help her with her homework, which she would rather not do in the first place.

October 21, 2010

Statistical measures such as “mean”, “median” and “mode” are measures that give us a sense of where data are located on a number line. They are therefore, sometimes, called “measures of location”. I had to think of them this past week as Ursuline College prepares to host the meeting of the Ohio Division of the Mathematical Association of America, which, for the first time in its history, will be located at our small college campus.

October 14, 2010

Anyone who has taken geometry is probably familiar with the concept of “similarity”, in which two shapes share the same angles and proportions, although they may be of very different sizes. This is often seen in right triangles, which may share the same angles but can be seen as larger or smaller versions of each other. I thought of this concept recently when I re-connected with a cousin, not in the currently common “Facebook” way but in the old fashioned way, over the telephone, as he stopped in to visit my grandmother.

October 7, 2010

I once had someone tell me a story of being on an airplane seated next to someone who was writing a dissertation in either math or economics (I forgot which). They asked their companion what their dissertation was on, and the person responded “chaos.” This person quickly responded by laughing; surely this was a reference to the old “Get Smart” movies of years ago. When they told me this story, I let them know that “chaos” is indeed an area of math that can be studied, and can even be applied to economics.

September 30, 2010

I recently taught a class in “linear programming”, in which a (linear) objective function is maximized subject to several constraints that are also lines themselves. As I worked several example problems with my students, I remembered the central fact of economics, that we all face constraints in our lives and must do the best we can within those constraints. This truth was brought home to me earlier this week when I received the phone call all working parents hope to avoid.

September 23, 2010

The concept of equality or equivalency is central to mathematics, as even the most simple algebra requires a statement of equivalency in order to present a statement that is true and can be solved. Such equality can even be found in non-mathematical arenas, as when mention of one thing immediately brings to mind thoughts of another. For example, it is true that there are certain cities whose names have become almost equivalent to organizations they house. When a character in The Great Gatsby says that someone “went to New Haven”, it is assumed that he went to Yale University.