English grammar guy (mathless) questions Algebra II teacher

jbreen

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This is probably the only time I'll ever visit here. I'm a retired
editor/writer with a huge background (plus major and minor) in
English/journalism. Math is not, nor has it ever been, my thing.
Algebra, to me, is what a mermaid wears.The only reason they passed me
(D-minus straight across the board) in Freshman [H.S.] algebra was
that I tried and cried, going in early in the morning and staying
late, but never understanding. "Good bye, good luck, whew, we got rid
of him," they figured. Having said all that, I bemusedly found myself, last
Friday, as a high school sub, aiding the teacher who was there, in an
Algebra II class. Naturally I was lost from the get-go. They're into
Linear Regression
, whatever that is.

Here is the problem:
____

"The table below shows the average daily TV viewing time per household
over a 40-year period.

[Please understand that this site won't let me align the years with
the viewing hours, so you'll have to straighten/align them in your
mind. Sorry]

Year: 1954 1964 1974 1984 1994
Viewing Hours: 4.6 5.3 6.1 7.0 7.2


Here is the question:

In what year would you expect the Hours of TV viewing to be 8?"
_____

Knowing NOTHING about math and not having/wanting a calculator, I
stared at the question and immediately assumed, as an English major,
that "expect" HAS to mean in the future, as the numbers for the past
are already posted. I couldn't come up with any sort of an answer, of
course, but when she said, "The answer is "somewhere between 1973 and
1974," I diplomatically thought to myself "No way." Yet I'm not about to
jeopardize $60 a day as a sub teacher calling her bluff, who
has no reason to. She explained her answer to me -- to no avail.

I then posted it on the grammar site where I hang out (similar to
this board only English-related -- grammarboard.com. It's great, if I
do say so myself). There are several "Regulars" on the grammar site
who are also gear-heads, i.e., math geniuses. Three out of four of
them say "your teacher was wrong."

Again, to me, the English in the question simply has to refer to the
future ("expect"), no? To me, the year would HAVE to be higher than
1994. No?

I won't go back to that teacher and "confront" her with this.
I'm a rational diplomat. But could you explain in simple English
(for math morons) how '73-'74 is right; or, if she is wrong, what is your answer?

Thank you!

John W. Breen

(also known as "Subordinate Claws" on the grammarboard.com
English-language-related website, where we have a ball re English grammar
like you do with math here. Check us out!) Same type of board format
as you have here, i.e., no reason to be "afraid." :)
 

tkhunny

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Right...one free one.

More background that you had in mind:
Linear regression is no big deal. It's just making up some rules about what "close" means and then finding the equation of the line that is "closest" to the data.

For this one, I get:

ViewingHours = 0.069*(Year) - 130.166

Drop in the desired Years and see how close it gets.

0.069*(1974) - 130.166 = 6.040 -- Not quite the observed 6.1, but not too far off.

Our task is to find ViewingHours = 8. No problem. Just solve:

8 = 0.069*(Year) - 130.166

Year = (8 + 130.166)/0.069 = 2002.406 (May 28th)

I'd like to know which "gear head" agreed with the teacher. It seems as though a little oiling may be in order.

One thing for which one ALWAYS should watch is a mere typo. IF the problem statement had intended to ask ViewingHours = 6, I get Year = 1973.420 (June 2nd)
 

galactus

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Well, let's see. Are the students just using their calculators do find linear regessions or are they doing them, heaven forbid, by hand?.

Anyway, a linear regression is the use of data points(like yours) to find a 'line of best fit'. Letting x=the year and y=hours of viewing, I ran the data through my calculator and arrived at the line equation y=.069x-130.166.

You want to find x when y=8. We set the equation equal to 8 and solve for x.

.069x-130.166=8.

.069x=8+130.166

.069x=138.166

138.166/.069=2002.41.

So, you'd expect the hours of TV viewing to be 8 in the year 2002, around 148 days in, to be exact.

Is this clear as mud?.
 

tkhunny

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In case you are keeping score, that's 2 out of 2 in agreement. Much better than 3 out of 4 on the "other" site.
 

galactus

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tkhunny said:
In case you are keeping score, that's 2 out of 2 in agreement. Much better than 3 out of 4 on the "other" site.
 

Ted

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Oh and it's 3 to 0 if you count my earlier email ;)
 

Denis

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Re: English grammar guy (mathless) questions Algebra II teac

jbreen said:
(also known as "Subordinate Claws" on the grammarboard.com
English-language-related website, where we have a ball re English grammar
like you do with math here. Check us out!) Same type of board format
as you have here, i.e., no reason to be "afraid." :)
J W, that site (found it) is just like English grammar: can't make heads
or tails out of it; signed up, but can't find a way to post something!
 

jbreen

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Oct 3, 2005
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Re: English grammar guy (mathless) questions Algebra II teac

Denis said:
jbreen said:
(also known as "Subordinate Claws" on the grammarboard.com
English-language-related website, where we have a ball re English grammar
like you do with math here. Check us out!) Same type of board format
as you have here, i.e., no reason to be "afraid." :)
J W, that site (found it) is just like English grammar: can't make heads
or tails out of it; signed up, but can't find a way to post something!
Funny, I couldn't figure out how to post on your site here! The two sites -- yours here and my grammarboard.com site are very similar in format, yet slightly different. Once you've registered, you should be able to post by clicking on "New Post" which is, I forget, either upper left or upper right, just like your icon here. Hey everybody, thanks for your input.

I'm not, nor will I ever be, programmed to comprehend it, but it's nice for me to realize that although I couldn't possibly give an answer, I did sense that something was wrong. I discovered the problem, but didn't have an answer. As I said, I won't dare go back to that teacher and tell her she'd flubbed the dub. Leave well enough alone. Again, many thanks!

And, if you math-heads ever have a grammar question, well, you know where to go: grammarboard.com. We have FUN there; we're not a bunch of pontifical myopic snoots wearing coke-bottle glasses and blowing bubbles through our pablum. We get kinda crazy now and then. Check out "AnswerMan" (that would be me, in one of my personalities there). I also do "Typo of the Weak" (spelling intentional). Cheers!
 

tkhunny

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Your observation strikes me as closely related to a baseball outfielder. Just exactly how does he know where to run to catch the ball? Very few, I expect, excelled at analytic geometry, and yet, somehow, they just know. Good eye!

I always use too many commas.
 

stapel

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tkhunny said:
Just exactly how does he know where to run to catch the ball?
By positioning himself "in front" of the ball. By making continual adjustments (this would be when two outfielders run into each other), he keeps himself "in front" of the ball, so it appears to be on a straight trajectory, and the geometry takes care of itself.

Eliz.
 

tkhunny

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I almost believe that, but there are two items contrary to that theory:

1) Some outfielders are said to get a good "jump" on the ball. It is a way to distinguish great outfielders from merely good outfielders. They inherently know where the ball is going at the moment it leaves the bat.

2) Some outfielders don't watch the ball all the way in certain situations. They turn and run to the right spot, picking it up visually only at the last moment.

When I run under a ball, it has vectors all over it. I'm sure regular folks don't see them.
 

stapel

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tkhunny

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It never ceases to amaze me what we will spend money researching. Excellent reading, thank you. I suppose I should have thought there would be formal and formidable research on this subject, but it hadn't crossed my mind.
 

stapel

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Oh, golly, yes! People spend amazing amounts of time and effort researching sports, and especially baseball.

Glad you enjoyed the articles! :wink: :D

Eliz.
 
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