Functions, Data, and Models: An Applied Approach to College Algebra

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9780883857670: Functions, Data, and Models: An Applied Approach to College Algebra

This is a college algebra-level textbook written to provide the kind of mathematical knowledge and experiences that students will need for courses in other fields, such as biology, chemistry, business, finance, economics, and other areas that are heavily dependent on data either from laboratory experiments or from other studies. The focus is on the fundamental mathematical concepts and the realistic problem-solving via mathematical modeling rather than the development of algebraic skills that might be needed in calculus.

Functions, Data, and Models presents college algebra in a way that differs from almost all college algebra books available today. Rather than going over material covered in high school courses the Gordons teach something new. Students are given an introduction to data analysis and mathematical modeling presented at a level that students with limited algebraic skills can understand. The book contains a rich set of exercises, many of which use real data. Also included are thought experiments or what if questions that are meant to stretch the student s mathematical thinking.

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About the Author:

Sheldon Gordon was born in New York City. He received his undergraduate training at Polytechnic Institute of New York and his graduate training at McGill University in Montreal, where he earned an MSc and a Ph.D. in mathematics. He is Johnson Professor of Mathematics at Farmingdale State College, a SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor and the recipient of the Metropolitan New York Section's Distinguished Teaching Award, among other honors. He is the author of almost 200 articles on mathematics and mathematics education.

Florence Gordon was born in Montreal, Canada and received her undergraduate and graduate training at McGill University, where she majored in mathematical statistics and earned a BSc, MSc, and Ph.D. She is a Professor Emeritus at New York Institute of Technology. She is the author of over 75 articles on statistics, mathematics education and statistical education.

Review:

Sheldon Gordon (Farmingdale State College) and Florence Gordon (NY Institute of Technology) have written many mathematics-related books and articles. In this endeavor, they work as a team to show how algebra is used in the "real world." On initial viewing, Functions, Data and Models may seem like a typical textbook, with all the usual key parts, including appendixes and answers to selected problems in the back of the book. However, on closer examination, readers will see and understand how the eight-chapter work differs from classic algebra books. The detailed preface includes messages for the student, messages for the instructor, and information on the book's philosophy. Some sections are standard for all textbooks; for example, the authors introduce a topic and provide example problems along with problems to be solved at the end of the section. The difference is that the problems are about subjects with which all students are familiar,e.g., sports, weather, money, and food. Chapter 2 uses a problem about cooking a turkey to help students understand models and predictions. There are also many useful illustrations throughout. The book would be a great resource for any algebra course. Highly recommended. --K.D. Holton, CHOICE Magazine --K.D. Holton, CHOICE Magazine

This textbook certainly sets the hook early when authors explain in the preface that the book's philosophy is to allow students to focus on mathematical ideas, not mathematical calculations. In contrast to many traditional college algebra texts that emphasize algebraic manipulations (which students may rarely need in their future careers), this text seeks to "meet the changing and qualitative needs of most other disciplines" (p. xi) by focusing more on graphical, numerical, and statistical methods. The authors have written a very dense text that begins with basic statistical ideas in Chapter 1 and then delves into a deeper discussion of functions in Chapters 2-8. The general content includes exploration into exponential, power, polynomial, and periodic functions, with an emphasis on modeling and interpreting data sets within an appropriate mathematical context. Every section is filled with real-world data, displayed in both tabular and plotted formats, perfect for the visual learner. I was pleasantly surprised that there were only a few equations or formulas highlighted by square boxes, a wonderful contrast to the typical mathematics text that speaks to this book's different philosophy. An aspect of the text that I found particularly refreshing was the inclusion of "Thought Experiments" peppered throughout many sections. These thinking exercises require students to interpret what they have read before they dive into solving any of the potential problems available at the end of each section. Additionally, the authors have included several "Virtual Laboratories," which are short applied projects on different topics that include physics, chemistry, biology, and meteorology. As the authors point out in the introduction to this text, it contains enough material (in both depth and variety) to cover two semesters' worth of study. On the other hand, the interested instructor could easily design a syllabus covering a limited number of topics from the book to address the needs of a semester-long course. I highly recommend this text to instructors who seek to cultivate creativity and critical thinking in their college-algebra-level students. --Hilary Fletcher, Mathematics and Computer Education

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