Some Socially Relevant Applications Of Elementary Calculus

Some Socially Relevant Applications of Elementary Calculus
Author: Clark, Colin
College Mathematics Journal, Vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 1-15, 1973.

Summary: In this article, Clark recognizes the fact that many students of calculus become disengaged with the topic due to an inability to relate with, or find interest in, it. He argues that math applies to many social issues relevant to everyone and can help one form a confident opinion about such subjects. He begins by creating a mathematical model for marginality in economics. He claims that this subject, which is very similar to the idea of derivatives, should not just be taught to economics students but to mathematics scholars as well. He then goes on to discuss the costs
that firms are forced to pay and how models affect such things as noise levels and pollution using differential equations. He also models fish populations with differential equations. He notes that his model of the human population under ideal conditions is not accurate because of the varying conditions that are present in reality which affect population growth. He also models the negative effects of rising populations and increases in standards of living on the
availability of resources. His model of nuclear energy recognizes that there will be a subsequent buildup of radiation in the environment. This radiation buildup reaches an equilibrium point as time goes to infinity. Finally, differential equations modeling the harvesting of certain populations such as fish and the blue whale are presented. He notes that it is important to consider future potentials along with present profits of these resources when calculating profitability. Clark presents many different ways of predicting some aspects of life to which the average calculus student can relate.

Summary by Anna Choi, Pomona College '13

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License