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Topic: Tricky logistic growth problem
Replies: 5   Last Post: Apr 29, 1998 7:45 PM

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Elisse Ghitelman

Posts: 34
Registered: 12/6/04
Tricky logistic growth problem
Posted: Apr 27, 1998 12:30 PM
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In light of Dave Slomer's problem of assigning "difficult" problems, I sat
down today and worked a practice AP exam from the new Barron's review book
before having my students try it. (It's our school vacation week). I ran
into a problem on part A of the multiple choice (NO calculators) that I'm
not sure how to do without a calculator. I only have a copy of the problem
(not the book with the solutions) at home with me, so I'm looking for a
little help. Here's the problem:

A population of rabbits grows according to the differential equation
dR/dt = 0.001 R (200 - R) where R(t) is the number of rabbits after t months.
If there were initially 25 rabbits, aproximately how many months will it
take the population to double?

(a) 2.7 (B) 3.5 (C) 4.2 (D) 6.9 (E) 8.4


I tried two different techniques: First, I tried to use Euler's method by
hand with one month intervals. I had to do a lot of rounding to get
numbers I could work with, and then just guessed based on the answer
choices. I saw that the population was initially growing at around 5
rabbits/ month; since I was below half the limiting population, the growth
rate was increasing, so it would take a little less than five months, guess
choice (C).

Next, I actually solved the diff eq to get:
R/(200-R)=(1/7) e^(t/5)
Substituting R=50, you get that the doubling time is t = 5 ln(7/3).
Again, I estimated; ln (7/3) is a little less than 1, so we guess (C) again.

So, anyone with too much time on their hands, and more insight than I want
to suggest an easier way to get the answer for this one.

Thanks in advance for your help.


Elisse Ghitelman
Newton North High School
Newton, MA, USA





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