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

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.
July 29, 2010
Patterns are central to math and statistics. If we add two of something to two more of that something, we get four of it. We say that something is “statistically significant” if we see patterns in the data that would not be expected to show up randomly. And we can write patterns, such as the famed “Fibonacci Sequence” by looking at the previous values and defining the newest value in terms of the previous ones.
July 22, 2010
Even people who have never taken a class in Economics have probably heard phrases from the subject from time to time. “The Invisible Hand” is often used to explain the fact, noticed by Adam Smith, that self-interest on the part of participants in an economy still leads the economy to a point where everyone’s needs are met. “But in the Long Run, We are All Dead” was a phrase spoken by John Maynard Keynes when many people assured each other that the economy of the Great Depression would turn around on its own, in the long run.
July 15, 2010
Last week, the greater Cleveland area let out a collective groan as we learned that our star basketball player would be moving from the local team. As I watched him and several other star players congregate in another team, I was reminded of the game “Monopoly." As you may remember, this game is won by amassing market power and then charging fellow players high prices for landing on one’s property. A similar approach is taken by monopolies in the marketplace, where market power forces consumers to pay higher prices for goods than would be otherwise expected.

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