I was just finishing a proof we would be discussing in my Calculus III class this past Tuesday when I heard the bagpipes.

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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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September 13, 2012

I was just finishing a proof we would be discussing in my Calculus III class this past Tuesday when I heard the bagpipes.

September 6, 2012

One topic I really enjoyed in my high school art class was perspective, the artistic technique used to create the illusion of depth in a picture. This is a concept that is also studied in Geometry, and it is a concept that I found myself thinking of this past week as I laughed at the fact that my daughter seems to be at a point in her life where she thinks that the world revolves around her. This perspecticve is at least partially caused by the nurturing neighborhood that we live in, where everyone’s child is important and neighbors are people to not only live next door to but to also socialize with us and support us as we live our lives on a set of a few streets way off the beaten path.

August 30, 2012

In statistics, we talk about a “population” as being everyone that could possibly be included in a study, such as everyone who lives in New York City. In contrast, we talk about a “sample” as being a subset of a population, as, for example, all people in New York with a last name beginning with “L”.

August 23, 2012

In some of our classes that fulfill the math requirement for the core curriculum, we occasionally teach sections involving logic, asking questions such as, “if we say ‘if A, then B’, does that mean that ‘if B, then A’?” I found myself thinking of these questions as I was delighted at the signs that sprung up on campus this week directing new students to various events on campus.

August 16, 2012

There is a theorem in Economics known as “Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem” that, as proposed by the Nobel Prize winning economist Kenneth Arrow, discusses the impossibility of coming to a conclusion that completely satisfies the preferences of a multiple of voters. I thought of this theorem recently when I attended the memorial service for a former colleague who had done what I thought was impossible. As plans for this service came together, I learned that he did not just die suddenly, as the announcement of his death informed us. In fact, he had actually taken his own life. I found myself at a complete loss in explaining what happened to him to my daughter, who, until now, has been relatively sheltered from this dark reality.

August 9, 2012

I study the workings of organizations whose main purpose is not just to earn money, but to do something else. Just what that “something else” is has not completely been determined, and so the “objective function” of the nonprofit organization remains a “holy grail” for my sub-sub field that many continue to search for. I must admit that I am among those searching for this elusive model.

August 2, 2012

There is a classic problem from Algebra that torments many a math student. If one driver leaves New York going 150 miles an hour, and another leaves Chicago going 200 miles an hour, where do they meet? (the answer- jail; they both were arrested for speeding!) Another classic problem haunts Calculus students, in which the volume created by revolving a function around a line is calculated. It is that latter problem that I was reminded of as I watched daughter, who would soon be too big to be riding such a small animal, ride a pony last weekend.

July 26, 2012

There is a concept in statistics called “expected value.” This is the expected outcome of any situation that involves probability, and is found by multiplying the possible outcomes by the probability that each will occur and then adding these products together. Expected value calculations are why it is generally thought that one should not play the lottery, as some claim that the lottery is a “tax on people who did not do well in math

July 19, 2012

When I teach sampling in my statistics classes, I often talk about the role that Ohio has traditionally played in determining the outcome of presidential races. This was something that I was blissfully unaware of growing up on the East Coast, where I was led to believe that anything that mattered in the country happened east of the Hudson River. Now that I live in Ohio, I realize that my adopted state has often played an important role in determining the final outcomes of presidential races, and that this year’s race promises to be no different. Indeed, those of us who live in Ohio cannot turn on the radio or TV these days without encountering ads from both sides of the isle. This is particularly annoying to those of us who tend to watch or listen to the news, as such programs are where political ads are being concentrated at this point in the race.

July 12, 2012

When the unusual heat gripped my part of the U.S. in the last few weeks, I did the only logical thing to do - I packed up each evening and took my daughter, and often a neighborhood friend or two, to the public pool. It was a great relief from the heat, and provided a wonderful end to the day. We often play together, splashing in the water that looks like a tortoise shell in the fading sunlight. However, she also likes to go off to swim with her friends, leaving me to either swim laps, to observe what is going on at the pool or to chat with fellow parents, many of whom are also left alone while their children play. As I sat back and took a breath, I found myself noticing several things.

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