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.

Hi Reva, This post spoke to me because I am currently doing my MBA and became enlightened on how important math (esp. statistics) is to finance. I never realized how integrated the two are. I’m also finding that’s the case with economics to finance too.

Thanks, Eve. I’m sort of an “evangelist” for intro level math courses since they don’t seem to get the attention they deserve. I read your post about learning preferences in your blog , and you are so right about learning gaps. If students can have their conceptual learning gaps in math pointed out by a teacher, then they can work on better understanding.