There is a function in math called the “Greatest Integer Function,” which assigns a value to every number that is the largest integer less than or equal to that number. For example, the numbers 1, 1.2 and 1.9 would all have a value of 1 for this function. As you can imagine, this leads to a graph that looks a lot like a set of stairs, and is the typical example used when describing what a “discontinuous” function looks like. I found myself thinking of this over the past week, as I watched my daughter move up a grade in school.

# 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

May 31, 2012

As I age, my eyes are staring to betray me. This is something that I particularly notice when I am reading things that involve superscripts or subscripts, which occurs often in math and economics.

May 24, 2012

An important topic from Algebra is that of intersecting lines. Equations can be written representing lines on graph paper, and Algebra, especially Linear Algebra, helps find points that are contained on more than one line, where two or more lines intersect. I thought of this last weekend as I watched former students walk across a stage to receive their diplomas, and realized that their lives had intersected with mine. I know that my life is richer for having known them.

May 17, 2012

One of the concepts I teach in my Quantitative Reasoning class is the idea of “Exponential Growth.” Such growth, where a variable grows by a fixed percent, is found in such things as population growth and the growth of money earning interest. I found myself thinking of this recently as I watch my daughter grow at a rate that seems to be exponential, outgrowing clothes almost before they can be worn and threatening to soon pass me by in terms of height. I am thrilled to see her turning into a healthy young lady, but I have to pause as I realize that, as she grows, she is exposed to aspects of life that I would prefer to shield her from.

May 10, 2012

Central to the subject of Economics is the idea of “utility maximization.” This concept proposes that people choose the optimal assortment of work, goods and leisure given the constraints they face. As calculus is applied to compute such choices, it is assumed that the economic agent is strictly self-interested, an assumption I find myself thinking about as we celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend.

May 3, 2012

In economics, we talk about purchasing machinery that is used in producing a product as “investment” in capital, and in acquiring skills and experience that will help an employee perform a job more efficiently as “human capital investment.” It is this later type of investment that seems to be on the forefront of the minds of many of my fellow parents who I run into lately.

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.