w e i g h t e d a v e r a g e
The weighted average is one of the unsung heroes of math, especially for those of us that love conditionals. An average is great, if all the quantities can be assumed to be drawn from the same distribution, but with a weighted average, each element gets its own story - its own weight. Weighted averages can get a bad name from the infamous grade calculation: 25% of your grade from your homework scores, 50% from your test scores and 25% from your final, and so on. As the semester was drawing to a close, I watched students figure out just how hard they needed to be studying for the final. In truth, we use weighted averages all the time. How much money to set aside for holiday toys? How much spaghetti to make tonight? How far can I go on this tank of gas? Even with this pendant: you might say, "I like gemstone pendants" - a nice average statement where your feelings about any one gemstone are approximately the same. But what if you said, "I like garnets better than any other gemstone"? Now your feelings about garnets are different than other gemstones, and that will bias how you select jewelry. Or maybe you say, "I only buy cabochon gemstone jewelry" or "small jewelry pendants don't work with my wardrobe". If I wanted to, I could assign some numbers to these feelings - these biases - and voila, we could have a jewelry selection algorithm that could quantify how likely you are to buy this necklace compared with another. I hear people say they don't like math, which is too bad because it can be a lot of fun. The next time someone says they can't do math, remind them of weighted averages. Cost: $36.00 USD
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