Measuring the Popularity of Soccer in the USA

Posted on:  June 11, 2014

Tomorrow is the start of the 2014 World Cup, so I thought I would take a moment to discuss the popularity of soccer in the United States. It is hard to pin down the true popularity of a sport, but I thought two important measures could serve as a barometer of the sport's popularity in the USA: average attendance numbers for MLS (Major League Soccer) games and MLS revenue.  Read more

A Useful Approximation

Posted on:  May 13, 2014

I saw a video post from the Whitehouse that asked a simple question: "If someone works full time and makes the federal minimum wage, do you know how much their annual salary is?" In the video, an interviewer went around asking people that question, and most of the responses shown were way off the mark. It is clear that the people featured in the video never learned a simple method to approximate an annual salary from an hourly wage. In this post, I describe a handy method to perform the approximation described above.  Read more

Programming the Matching Birthday Problem

Posted on:  April 6, 2014

In a previous post, I solved a fairly famous probability problem about two or more people having a matching birthday (in a room of size n). In this post, I show how to write a program for a Texas Instruments graphing calculator, which will perform the calculations. The program produces surprising results, which can be fun to share with family and friends, and learning to use the TI-83's program feature can be an easy way to learn a little computer programing.   Read more

The Matching Birthday Problem

Posted on:  April 6, 2014

Several years ago, I encountered a probability problem that was quite interesting. After first reading the problem, it seemed very difficult. The problem went something like this: "Ignoring leap years, find the probability that a room containing n people has at least two people with the same birthday (same month and day, not year)." In this post, I will demonstrate how to use the "probability of at least one" to solve the problem.   Read more

What if MOOCs Seriously Succeed?

Posted on:  April 5, 2014

The hot topic in education right now is massive, open, online courses (MOOCs). These online courses are offered by both for-profit companies and non-profit organizations. Supporters claim that MOOCs will revolutionize higher education by increasing access for the world's underserved populations and by dramatically reducing costs. This post considers one possible consequence should MOOCs manage to succeed.   Read more