Category Archives: Math

Geometry (Scobie)

You know who you are. If you are someone else, talk to me before signing up for this class in Spring Term.

Super Simple Data Science (Michael J. Coffey)

Let’s be clear.  Doing data science isn’t exactly simple.  However, it’s entirely possible to go from only knowing basic math to understanding the ideas behind the most popular techniques in data science.  If you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide, and feel pretty comfortable with decimals and percentages and fractions, you can understand fancy-sounding methods like support vector machines, and linear regression, and hierarchical clustering, all of which are techniques used by professional data scientists.

To give a quick example:  The price of an item and how many people decide to buy are related.  The higher the price, the fewer get purchased.  The idea behind linear regression is just to use math to draw a line on a graph that best summarizes the relationship.  (For those in algebra, it’s an application of the slope-intercept formula.)

We will be talking about what the techniques are, how they work, and when they might be more or less useful.  This class is a calculation-light sampler of what you could do if you decided to learn more math and become a data scientist.  Or if you don’t want to be a data scientist, you will at least be better able to understand what they say and do.

If you took Thinking with Math or Living with Math, this class will be aimed at being only slightly more “mathy.”  It’ll be less mathy than Algebra I.

About the instructor: Michael describes chocolate as "delicious."

Algebra I (Michael J. Coffey)

Having finished the bulk of Josh Rappaport’s Algebra Survival Guide, the Algebra I class will be switching things up and slowly dipping our toes into the pool of Algebra II ideas.  We’ll be using Lynn Marecek and Andrea Honeycutt Mathis’ free PDF textbook, Intermediate Algebra 2e.  It’s a little more technical than the good old “Book of Josh” but everyone can have their own copy for free, and it has lots of new ways we can use the book to discover new techniques, patterns, and shortcuts!

For example, how do you handle it if an “equation” has a greater-than symbol instead of an equals sign?  Can you still do the same thing to both sides if they’re not equal?!   Don’t worry, the “Book of Lynn and Andrea” (Lyndrea?) has lots of examples for us to look at.

If you’ve not been in the class before, talk to both Michael and your advisor ASAP before signing up.  Joining at this point will be extremely difficult, but not impossible, and we need to discuss what you’d need to do before next term to prepare.

About the instructor: I, of course, play a mage in Elden Ring.  But it's obviously math-based magic, like in some of Nnedi Okorofor's stories.

Required texts/materials: Intermediate Algebra 2e, by Lynn Marecek and Andrea Honeycutt Mathisfrom Openstax.  I will send a link to download the book to all registered students as soon as I get a roster. The instructor will procure the texts/materials.

Algebra II (Michael J. Coffey)

Note: This class is open to high school students only.

We will work through the second half of Lynn Marecek and Andrea Honeycutt Mathis’ free PDF textbook, Intermediate Algebra 2e.  It is considered an advanced placement textbook for high school, or an introductory-level college textbook, so we may not complete all of the last two chapters.  However, getting through the entire book is possible if we’re really focused on making progress all term.

But we will get at least through logarithms, the symbolic final question on my placement “test” at the beginning of the year!

If you’ve not been in the class before, talk to both Michael and your advisor ASAP before signing up.  Joining at this point will be extremely difficult, but not impossible, and we need to discuss what you’d need to do before next term to prepare.

About the instructor: As of the writing of this class description, Michael had not yet done his taxes.  He tells himself he's got plenty of time, but he really should do it sooner rather than later.