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

April 26, 2012
One of the topics I teach in my Quantitative Reasoning class is the calculation of a retirement savings goal. It is always shocking to my students how much money they will need to save in order to live comfortably in their retirement. However, as daunting as the goal may seem, I emphasize that it is important to begin to put some of what we earn away into a safe fund so we can draw on it in the future, when we need it. I found myself thinking of this concept recently when I attended a track meet in which my daughter and her young friends competed. I had to laugh when she asked me after her meet "did you like to run when you were a kid, too, mom?"
April 19, 2012
When people learn that I am both a full professor of Mathematics and an Economist who studies the economics of nonprofit organizations, they are often confused. “What do you teach?” is the common question that follows, to which there is a quick answer, a short answer and a long answer.
April 12, 2012
Thanks to my daughter and her friends, I have been exposed to the computer game “Angry Birds.” In it, some nasty pigs try to steal the eggs of a group of birds. These birds then fight back by flinging themselves (with our help) in an attempt to destroy the pigs, who sit laughing at the whole matter. I am most intrigued by the fact that much of what I learned in my first college physics class can be put to use to progress through the game.
March 22, 2012
In statistics, we often talk of "outliers," observations that appear so far from the average that they teach us something about the underlying data and how they came to be. This is a concept that has gained attention recently as the month of March has so far distinguished itself as a true outlier in this part of the country.
March 15, 2012
I often laugh at the politics of taking coffee from a shared coffee maker. The person who takes the last cup needs to make a new pot, so no one wants to be the person to take that last serving. To avoid this, people often take only half of a cup, leaving a half of a cup for the next (and presumably last) person. This can go on for a while, and could, in theory, go on indefinitely, as dividing by two with each thirsty but lazy person will never actually result in an empty coffee maker.
March 8, 2012
As is the case with most teachers, I have a stash of tricks that I teach my students to help them learn certain concepts that appear in my lectures. From the “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” of algebra to “Soh, cah, toa” of trigonometry to smiling, positive faces and frowning, negative faces to help calculus students remember the relationship between concavity and second derivatives, these techniques help difficult concepts become imprinted in the minds of students.
March 1, 2012
As I rolled into work on Monday, I was greeted by a friend from the Chemistry department rushing out of the building. She frantically told me that there had been a shooting at her daughter’s school. She said that five students had been shot, that she was off to see if her daughter was ok, and to please pass the word on to her department chair. She was off before I could give her a hug, but the scene haunted me all day as more bits of information became available and the story grew more horrible.
February 23, 2012
In 1900, the mathematician David Hilbert listed 100 mathematical problems that he felt would be good problems to address in the next century. Many of these have been solved, but some still wait for solutions. I found myself thinking of this recently as I realized that the season of Lent had begun. While this is traditionally a season of fasting and repentance, many today also approach this season as an opportunity to find ways to bring about a more just world. I found myself thinking of the Hilbert problems because it occurred to me that those of us in higher education could bring our collective minds together to address several issues that, like the Hilbert questions of years ago, seem to need addressing.
February 16, 2012
In economics, we talk about a free market bringing consumers and producers to an allocation that will be in everyone’s best interest, a result that does not require any consideration by the participants of the well being of others in the economy. This idea, sometimes called the “Adam Smith Hypothesis”, relies on several assumptions, some of which make sense and some which might be suspect in our modern economy. One of the assumptions needed for such a powerful result is the assumption of free information, that those in the economy have access to reliable information that they do not need to pay for. This assumption comes to mind when I realize that I am one of the last people in North America who is not yet a member of Facebook.
February 9, 2012
There are many times in math that we encounter behavior that appears to repeat or cycle back on itself. For example, one often finds strings of repeating digits when trying to convert a rational number into a decimal, or one can observe cyclical behavior associated with the trigonometric functions. Such behavior came to mind recently as I realized that we are moving from winter into a spring that will eventually turn into summer, and that, as a mom, I needed to plan for such a change in seasons.


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