Math and the Law
Date: 11/24/98 at 17:14:46 From: Eduardo Alvarez Subject: Algebra First of all I would like to congratulate you because of these cool Web pages. My question is the following: How can we use algebra in real life? I'm kind of confused because I don't know how do we use algebra in real life. Please respond to me as soon as possible because this is a project. Thank you, Eduardo Alvarez
Date: 11/25/98 at 14:12:31 From: Doctor Terrel Subject: Re: Algebra Hi there, Lots of people need to use algebra in real life - doctors, bankers, even lawyers (believe it!). Look at this e-mail I once saw on the Internet, from Gerald VonKorff, dated October 29, 1998: I'm a lawyer. I use mathematics all the time. Let me give you a few examples: 1. I am defending the State of Minnesota in an industrial tax appeal. The appraiser on the other side creates a regression analysis of so-called comparable sales. The regression analysis is voodoo econometrics. But if I have no understanding of variance, of statistical significance etc, how do I challenge his junk mathematics? 2. Several years ago, I defended a County in a major environmental litigation. The Army Corps of Engineers sought to fine my client $250,000 per day, because allegedly the County changed the course and current of a drainage ditch in a way that allegedly illegally increased drainage in violation of Section 504 of the Clean Water Act. Using hydrological equations, we were able to show, indeed to convince the Army Corps that their mathematics and engineering was wrong, because they failed to properly apply Manning's formula. Result, a saving of millions of dollars to our client. 3. A car is in an accident. An expert for the other side reconstructs an accident using faulty physical principles. If the lawyer does not understand physics, the lawyer is handicapped in challenging the analysis. Lawyers and their clients constantly use mathematics and statistics to analyze data to persuade. A lawyer who understands mathematics is a better and more persuasive lawyer. I believe that the same can be said for other professions. Engineering of course is obvious. But medicine and related fields too require an understanding of mathematics. Geography, environmental sciences, surveying - all of these fields now use mathematics. For more on real life uses of math, see the Dr. Math FAQ: http://mathforum.org/dr.math/faq/faq.why.math.html - Doctors Terrel and Sarah, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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