Mathematical Models for Mere Mortals
These days, the use of mathematical models to simulate complex systems, and to forecast future events, is an everyday idea. Perhaps you’ve heard your TV weather reporter say something like, “the models show the storm passing to the north of us, but we’ll have to wait and see.” Or maybe you’ve heard of the models that economists use to forecast future trends in the economy (sometimes incorrectly). If you’ve read anything at all about climate change, you’ve no doubt heard about the climate models that are used to simulate the effect of increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Mathematical models are idealizations of reality, and modeling lies at the very heart of modern science, engineering, and economics. When we talk about using math to better understand the world around us, at some level we are talking about building and using mathematical models.
Of Special Note: For students with a background in college math, The Empire State College Course, Math Modeling, is for students ready to go beyond the basics and learn about the models used in science and economics.