There have been quite a few articles recently discussing the mathematical models of the valuation of mortgage backed securities, and the house of cards that fell as a result. One appeared on WIRED and another in The New York Times .
So what’s the take-away for college math education? Most of our math students are not in math intensive majors. However, majors in business and social sciences must have a very good understanding of the mathematics that they do use – typically, a subset of elementary statistics and elementary algebra. It is not clear to me that students are achieving a deeper understanding of these elementary concepts. They should at least understand that mathematical models are limited and there is much more to applying math than simply substituting variables into a range of formulas.