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Mathematics Courses & Research

What is Mathematical Modeling

“Mathematical modeling is the process of using mathematics to study a question from outside the field of mathematics. A mathematical model is a representation of a particular phenomenon using structures such as graphs, equations, or algorithms. These models, in turn, produce new understandings about the original settings of interest and help students (and researchers) answer the questions that they have posed.”


Examples of questions that use mathematical modeling:

  1. How does dirt affect the melting of snow mounds?
  2. What harvesting guidelines will protect a lobster population in the face of uncontrollable natural variations in the environment?
  3. How can delegates to the United Nations be seated to maximize harmony?
  4.  How should a town structure the penalties for speeding tickets in order to generate the greatest revenues?
  5. What arrangement of ceiling lights provides the most even illumination of a room?


from Mathematical Modeling:Teaching the Open-ended Application of Mathematics by Joshua Paul Abrams

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