FTS-100-146: Forecasting via Mathematical Modeling

Fall 2009

Course description

This seminar introduces students to critical thinking and a discussion of values, and develops oral and written communication skills, through an investigation of the forecasting of future events via mathematical and computer models. In this seminar we shall consider what will happen in various situations if current trends continue. Students will learn mathematical models that are useful for financial and economic forecasting, population projections, and even casino gambling. We shall read and discuss accounts of attempts to forecast more complex systems, such as the weather, climate, ecosystems, and epidemics.
Prerequisite: A good knowledge of high school algebra

Instructor: John Holte

Class meetings

Textbooks and materials

Course web site

FTS components


Participation and performance factors may modify your grade.

Academic honesty

Disability services




FTS-100-146 Syllabus, Fall 2009

Week Elementary Mathematical Models Introduction to Difference Equations The Future of Everything Writing Other
1 1. Overview 0. Introduction
1.1, 1.3
  Writing sample Making the most of college
2 2. Difference equations 1.2 Higher differences
2.1 Basic definitions
Introduction Forecast Axiology
3 3. Arithmetic growth
4. Linear models
  1. Slings and arrows
The beginnings of prediction
Writing math GAC values
4 5. Quadratic growth models   2. Let there be light
Tycho Brahe and the model makers
Writing exercises Nobel preview
5 Quiz 1, Monday
EMM Chapters 1-5
  Writing exercises
Portfolios due
Nobel Conference
Oct. 6-7
6 8. Fitting a line to data
9. Geometric growth
  3. Divide and conquer
The gospel of deterministic science
Nobel report draft  
7 10. Exponential Functions
11. Logarithms (pp. 233-236)
Quiz 2, EMM 8-11, Friday
4. Red sky at night
Predicting the weather
Nobel report
Portfolios due
Start Malthus
Library resources
8 12. Geometric sums and mixed models 2.4 yk+1=Ayk+B     Reading Days
Oct. 26-27
9   Ch. 3-parts
Second-order LDE wcc
5. It's in the genes
Predicting our health
  IEX registration
10   Ch. 3-parts
Linear difference equations
6. Bulls and bears
Predicting our economy
Malthus drafts
Math/CS models
Registration conferences
Presenting models
11 13. Logistic growth
14. Chaos in logistic models
  7. The big picture
How weather, health, and wealth are related
Malthus reports Registration conferences
12 Quiz 3
Ch. 3: Second-order equations
  Portfolios due Thanksgiving break
13     8. Back to the drawing board: Figuring out where we went wrong   Work on projects
14     9. Consulting the crystal ball
Our world in 2100
  Oral project reports
15         Oral project reports
16       Written project reports due Final exam day
This is tentative syllabus.