Sunday, March 16, 2008

Maff, not Meff

For the past 3 or 4 months in math class, all we’ve been doing is finding the slopes of lines tangent to graphs at any given point on the graph. Said simply, or at least less complexly, we’ve been finding derivatives. This may sound very boring to most people, but I actually tend to enjoy math classes. Using derivatives, you can find the maximum and minimum values for any equation. This means, when applied to “real-life” situations, such as those pertaining to businesses, factories, or pretty much anything that gives you products in exchange for money, that people can find out exactly how to level their prices to achieve maximum profit or to make sizes that minimize costs. This is done by finding derivatives, which (in math jargon) give you critical points which may be a maximum or minimum value.
The only problem I can remember that can easily explain this deals with some bus company. They charge 25 cents normally, and get 8000 passengers. For every 5 cent increase, they lose 800 people. After doing a bunch of math that looks really good on paper, you come up with 40 cents and 5600 passengers giving the most money, which is your maximum value. This was all done with derivatives.
Also, from writing this, I have learned how to spell derivative because Microsoft Word corrected my butchering of it enough times that I learned how to spell it.
And lastly, I must quote one of my friend’s t-shirts, “I wish I was your derivative, so I could lay tangent to your curves.”

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