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

August 25, 2011
There is a concept in labor economics called a “reservation wage.” This is the lowest wage that one would be willing to accept in order to be enticed to enter the formal labor market. This may depend on many things, including one’s assessment of the need to earn income for one’s family as well as the utility gained from spending time with one’s family on an informal basis. I thought of this last week as my daughter’s school began again and I found myself picking her up from “after care” where she stayed following the school day, as I finished up my work day.
August 18, 2011
There is a concept used in calculus and economics called “elasticity.” This idea measures the percent change in one variable as another variable experiences a one percent change. This is often used to talk about, for example, demand for a product, demand that might change for many reasons, as when the price of a product changes, or when the price of a close substitute changes, or even when the income of consumers change.
August 11, 2011
In math we often talk about “bounded sets.” A bounded set in two dimensions is one that we can draw a circle around, while one in three dimensions is one that can be placed in a sphere. I thought of this recently as I reflected back on the summer that is almost over. Bounded by the end of school on one side and the beginning of a new school year on the other, the set “the days of summer vacation” is certainly a bounded set, one what is quickly approaching the end of the list of such values.
August 4, 2011
The idea of “reflection” is one of several Euclidean motions in a plane that are studied in geometry. Along with it are concepts such as rotation and translation. It was reflection, however, that I found myself thinking of recently as I watched my child at the public pool. I did this for two reasons. The first was that the pool has reversed the set up of the “lap” lines and the available lower diving board across an imaginary line of reflection down the center of the deep end of the pool.
July 28, 2011
It is suspected that the 360 degrees in a circle may have originated from the 365 days in a year, as these 365 days bring us back to the day where we began, even as turning a geometric figure a full turn of 360 degrees returns the figure to where it started. This weekend the Jesuit order, which educated me, once again celebrates its founder.
July 21, 2011
A town not far from where I work defines itself as “The City of Choice”, and I used to laugh that perhaps I should move there, since I am an economist. Economics is essentially the study of how people make decisions, or choices, given the constraints they face. For example, given our budgets, we choose what products to buy, with one of these products being “leisure”, or, more accurately, “leisure and home production”, since one thing we can choose is to spend our time caring for our family.
July 14, 2011
Even though we all know that discrimination continues to exist in our economy, economists often say that discriminatory actions will lead to market opportunities for competitors, as those competitors hire qualified workers who are eliminated from the hiring pool based on factors unrelated to productivity. The same would apply to firms that refuse to sell products to whole groups of people, as such preferences are “purchased” at the high price of lost revenue.
July 7, 2011
As a math geek, I often find myself using math language to describe everyday life. For example, if I don't think that someone is credible, I might say "just take what he has to say and multiply by zero." Of course, multiplying by zero makes the product disappear to zero. I couldn't help but think of this when I learned recently that a big part of my life as a graduate student had, in effect, been multiplied by zero.
June 30, 2011
I recently found myself working a problem on the board in Statistics in which two values were subtracted to find the difference that turned out to be 0.1972. As I read the value from the board, reading it as “zero point nineteen seventy two” when I stopped for a second and asked my students “ok, so who else in here remembers 1972?” I expected a wave of groans from people born since 1990, but instead discovered that most of the students in that particular class were close to my age, with several being older.
June 23, 2011
When my daughter switched schools this past year, I knew from the beginning that I wanted her to attend a camp this summer with friends from her new school. That would solidify friendships from the school year, and help her further develop language and social skills. Luckily, I found a camp that two of her good friends attend, and signed her up. I must admit that I was a little nervous about the dynamics of having three girls together in such a setting, but I trusted that, as they usually do, they would work out any problems.


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