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The Problem with Algebraic Models of Marriage Structure

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Author:James M. Cargal; The Math Forum
Description: Algebraic models of marriage systems have been in use for nearly fifty years. These models continue to be a matter of controversy. Most anthropologists have found algebraic models abstract and unnecessary. Mathematical scientists have tended to consider the value of these models self-evident. Cargal argues here that the anthropologists have been in large correct, and that the crux of the matter comes down to the question of what constitutes a mathematical model. Different mathematical cultures answer this question in different ways. Although there is some formal mathematical content to this note, it is written with the intent that the non-mathematical reader can easily absorb the gist.

Levels: High School (9-12), College
Languages: English
Resource Types: Preprints
Math Topics: Basic Algebra, Group Theory, Astronomy, Quantum Theory, Sociology/Anthropology

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