## Math Quiz: NYT Learning Network

Through Math for America, I am part of an on-going collaboration with the New York Times Learning Network. My latest contribution, a **Test Yourself** quiz-question, can be found here:

This question is based on the the recent historic presidential elections in Egypt. How many more votes did the winner receive?

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## Math Quiz: NYT Learning Network

Through Math for America, I am part of an on-going collaboration with the New York Times Learning Network. My latest contribution, a **Test Yourself** quiz-question, can be found here:

This question deals with the high number of adults in prison in Louisiana. Of Louisiana’s 4.5 million residents, how many are in jail?

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## On College Rankings

This essay from the President of Reed College discusses what it’s like to live outside (and inside) the world of college rankings, essentially asking “Are these rankings meaningful?”

It’s a familiar story to anyone who has ever contemplated *teaching to the test*. As rankings/ratings/grades become more and more important, colleges/schools/students (and teachers) tend to focus more and more on those metrics, perhaps at the expense of what’s really important (whatever that might be).

A perfect rating system, presumably, would compel the rated parties to meet and expand the standard of excellence. But in practice, it seems difficult to come to a consensus about what comprises excellence, and even harder, then, to construct an appropriate rating system.

So how should we measure a college or university?

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## Math Quiz: NYT Learning Network

Through Math for America, I am part of an on-going collaboration with the New York Times Learning Network. My latest contribution, a **Test Yourself** quiz-question, can be found here:

This question focuses on the increasing number of Americans who are collecting Social Security early. What hourly wage is equivalent to collecting social security benefits?

*Click here to see more in Challenge.*

## Math Quiz: NYT Learning Network

**Test Yourself** quiz-question, can be found here:

This question is built around the recent $2 billion loss posted by the bank JPMorgan. How many yearly salaries is that loss equivalent to?

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## Unsolved Math Problems

This is a nice list of famous unsolved math problems from Wolfram MathWorld:

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/UnsolvedProblems.html

There are some well-known problems here, like the **Goldbach Conjecture** and the **Collatz Conjecture**, and some lesser-known open problems like finding an **Euler Brick** with an integral space diagonal.

It’s especially nice that several of these challenges are easy to explain to non-mathematicians. For example, the **Goldbach Conjecture** asks “*Can every even number be written as the sum of two prime numbers?*” Somewhat surprisingly, after nearly 300 years, the best answer we have is probably**.**

I think I’ll make this page next year’s summer homework assignment.

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## NBA Draft Math: Strength of Draft Class

After creating a simple metric to evaluate the success of an NBA draft pick, I realized that the same approach could be used to evaluate the overall strength of a draft class.

To quantify the success of an individual draft pick I’m looking at the *total minutes played* by a player during the first two years of his contract. As far as simple evaluations are concerned, I think minutes played is as good a measure as any of a player’s value to a team, and I’m only looking at the first two years as those are the only guaranteed years on a rookie’s contract. This is by no means a thorough measure of value–it’s meant to be simple while still being relevant.

After using this measure to compare the performance of individual draft picks, I used the same strategy to evaluate the entire “Draft class”. I computed the average *total minutes per player* for the entire first round (picks 1 through 30, in most cases) of each draft from 2000 to 2009. Here are the results.

There doesn’t seem to be much variation among the draft classes, but the 2006 draft certainly looks weak by this measure. Upon closer inspection, that year does seem like a weak draft: the best players being **LeMarcus Aldridge** (2), **Brandon Roy** (6), and **Rajon Rondo** (21). The weakness of the 2000 draft also seems reasonable upon closer inspection at basketball-reference.com.

Another approach would be to somehow aggregate the career stats of each player in a draft, rather than looking at only the first two years, but that would make it difficult to compare younger and older players.

Are there any other suggestions for rating the overall strength of an NBA draft class?

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