Today I was teaching probability in MAT 142 College Mathematics and told the story of some guys that discovered a bug in video poker machines. My students were fascinated with the story and it gave me an opportunity to relate probabilities to real like. I thought you all might be interested too.
Not long ago, Microsoft Excel was the go to tool for making scatter plots and modeling data with regression functions. For the last ten years my students have used Excel to model data in projects. For many students wishing to use Excel on their own computers, Excel was an expensive purchase.
Other students wanted to save money and used ancient versions of Excel that were difficult to use. This was particularly aggravating to me since I had to help them find their models in Excel 2003, 2010, and 2013. The process was different in each platform.
This encouraged me to look at other ways of making pretty graphs with models. Google Sheets was particularly attractive because of its cost…free. Last summer Google added a simple way of adding a regression model to a scatter plot in Sheets. Now you can do just about everything you might want to do in College Algebra or Finite Mathematics in Google Sheets. And you get the added benefit of a single, free, platform in the Google ecosystem.
In December of 2014, Sony released the movie The Interview online after threats to theaters cancelled the debut in theaters. As originally reported in Wall Street Journal, the sales figures reported in January contained an interesting math problem appropriate for algebra students.
The following January, Sony reported sales of $31 million from the sales and rentals of The Interview. They sold the movies online for $15 and rented through various sites for $6. If there were 4.3 million transactions, how many of the transaction were sales of the movie and how many of the transactions were rentals?