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Topic: what should we say to AP students about the word "model"?
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Posts: 144
Registered: 12/6/04
what should we say to AP students about the word "model"?
Posted: Jul 31, 1996 5:50 PM
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< see previous message for lead-in to the following >

(2) The draft version of the Teacher's Guide quotes (on p.31) Hoaglin &
Moore as asserting that "data are numbers with a context". Some may
regard that as a bit oversimplified, but I like it, and think it captures
something important in only a few words.

Then I got thinking about the word "model," which surely is used in
multiple ways in mathematics and in statistics, as well. I have seen
instances in which it was asserted or implied that "an equation is a
model," (see endnote 1) but that seems to me to be a bit too simple to be
useful. Is y = 2x - 5 a model? If so, a model of what?

Then it occurred to me that, a la Hoaglin & Moore, it might be a useful
to start with the notion that "models are equations with a context".

What do others think?


1. In the draft version of Kime & Clark, Explorations in College Algebra,
Wiley, 1996, we find on p.93 the following: "Can we find an equation
that describes the relationship between female infant weight and age?
Such an equation is called a _mathematical model_." Actually, the
context is there, but the second sentence doesn't mention it. But maybe
it assumes it???

Bruce King
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Western Connecticut State University
181 White Street
Danbury, CT 06810

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