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

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.
September 16, 2010
When I was a child, there was a commercial on (black and white) TV that had a very happy woman telling a friend about some beauty product, and then that friend told several friends about it, "and so on, and so on, and so on." The way news of this beauty product was spread mimics exponential growth, where the number of people told is raised to a power with each telling. I could not help but think of such growth when I learned recently of the death of one of my colleagues from our Department of Education.
September 9, 2010
As I work proofs with my Calculus and Higher Geometries students, I often run across the Greek symbol that, in math, means “there exists." This might show up, for example, in statements such as “there exists” a point, a line or, (in economics) an equilibrium. Such existential issues are not foreign to mathematics, as arguably the most famous existential statement, “I think, therefore I am”, was made by Rene Descartes, who also gave us the “Cartesian Plane”, the intersection of the X and Y axes that becomes the canvas on which we draw analytic geometry.
September 2, 2010
This weekend is Labor Day, a day that signifies the end of summer and the start of the school year. Never mind that most of us have already started back to school, and that summer technically does not end for a few weeks. This weekend allows us a chance to relax and savor a few last minutes of summer before the cold weather begins to arrive. And so, as I prepare to join relatives for this long weekend, I sought out a bit of information about the history of Labor Day. Such information is all the more interesting to me, since my Ph.D.
August 26, 2010
It is sometimes said that it would be good to find a “two handed economist”, as we are known for seeing both sides of issues, and summarizing our thoughts with “on the one hand, but on the other hand.” It was that ambiguity that I felt when I saw some ads in a local newspaper that reminded me of a discussion that has been going on in this space recently.
August 19, 2010
Last week, I watched my daughter giggle as she made her way down the water slide at our public pool. She was floating on a mat that was pushed along by a stream of water until she was dropped, amidst laughter and delight, into the deep end of the pool. Ever the geek, I could not help but think of the concepts of “stocks” and “flows” in economics. Stocks are compared to the amount of water in the pool at any one time, while flows are the rate of change of that water, how much water is pumped into the pool minus the amount of water leaving the pool.
August 12, 2010
There is a concept in economics called a “tournament”. It notices that one way to motivate people to do something that you want them to do is to set up a tournament by setting out a goal that many people are willing to work for, and then encourage them to behave in a way that you desire in order to achieve that goal. The tenure process comes to mind immediately when I think of such tournaments, for the tenure process gives us a goal to work for, and in the process we align our behavior with that desired by the university.
August 5, 2010
There is a concept in mathematics that shows up in calculus and geometry, the concept of a "neighborhood." Like its real life counterpart, it is a designation of all points within a certain distance from a particular point. That distance is often represented with a Greek letter, such as “epsilon” or “delta," and these play important roles in the definition of the concept of a limit, which is the cornerstone of calculus. I thought of these concepts recently as I realized how lucky I am to live in the (geographic) neighborhood in which our house is located.


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