Each year in MATH 1300: Math Explorations Professor Steven Strogatz asks students to analyze the numbers in the US federal budget by rescaling them down to the size of a household budget for a family of four, to make better sense of the large numbers. Since the only data set he had available was from 2008, he offhandedly mentioned that he would appreciate it if someone could update the numbers with a more recent federal budget. Aiyana Green, PAM ’22, was up for the challenge.
Using her MATH 1300 training along with research and topic area skills from her PAM classes, Aiyana rescaled the data using President Biden’s proposed 2022 budget. Intrigued with the class assignment, Green and Strogatz co-wrote the essay, “Who’s Afraid of Big Numbers?” featured in The New York Times (read the full article here). They shared, “If we can relate big numbers to something familiar, they start to feel much more tangible, almost palpable.”