Data analysis can play an important role in bridging the gab between the world of mathematics and the student's world experience. Students study functions in class, but seldom have the opportunity to see these functions and their interactions exhibited in the world around them. As the students study the behavior of functions in calculus and precalculus courses, they learn how things should happen in theory. Through data analysis, the theory can be motivated and realised in the actual. The principles of curve fitting, re-expression, and residual analysis, offer a very exciting and enlightening basis for the motivation and derivation of many of the functions and functional concepts taught in high school algebra and in calculus. The Mathematics Department at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics has created, tested, and published an innovative data-driven precalculus text and is presently writing a calculus course involving many laboratory experiences from which the examples in this article are taken.
- Prof Dev