Course Overview

Welcome to your pre-economics math course! In this course, you will learn how the world of mathematics relates to the real world and how it can help you to solve real world problems. Throughout this math course, there will be many practical descriptions and exercises that show how the math concepts you learn in this course relate to the everyday world. By starting at the beginning of the course and working your way through the descriptions and exercises in the recommended order, you'll gradually acquire the mathematical background you need to understand the graphs and equations you'll encounter in your economics course. At the same time, I'll try to put in links to related material throughout the sections so that if you do jump ahead, or need a reminder, you'll know where to go next.

I've tried as much as possible to make the course complete in and of itself, so that you need very little background math knowledge to understand the material in the course. As a result, you may find that some of the pieces of information presented are fairly basic and fundamental. You may have seen them before and feel like you already know them. However, I've presented these basic pieces of math in a way that will make it easier for you to learn the new concepts in the course, and how these concepts fit into the larger math picture. Consequently, I encourage you to read through all the sections even if you think you know the material already or have learned it before.

The course will begin by talking about the area of math called geometry- the study of shapes. Geometry is an important topic for you, because you'll need it to understand how to make graphs using equations- two very important aspects of economics. The course will then go on to discuss the origins of algebra- the study of the relationship between numbers and other mathematical objects. You'll also learn how algebra can be used to describe actual real world problems and help find ways to solve these problems.

We'll then learn how Descartes, a French philosopher and mathematician found a new way to combine algebra and geometry, which led to the modern system of graphing. Graphing is used extensively in the sciences, including economics, so we'll spend some time in this part of the course looking at practical examples of algebra and graphing.

Jen Schellinck

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Copyright Jen Schellinck, 2006