I just made this flowchart for the Calculus Preparation lesson coming up next Monday, which is on how to model nonlinear data. Click to enlarge:

I <heart> OmniGraffle. It’s one of my top ten e-learning tools for good reason.

The PDF version of this is in my Box.net widget — go to the sidebar and scroll down. Feel free to download and use/share.

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Hey, this is cool. I can even use this in my experimental work in lab. We often get biological data sets that are curvilinear and we need to interpolate or extrapolate unknowns. If the data is roughly linear (uncommon except over limited value ranges for some types of biological reactions) I just use Excel’s linear trendline feature, but I’m often at a loss with how to cope with curvilinear sets.

Will the chapter 5 flowchart help me with my sigmoidal sets (most common)?

This is the problem with math education: I’m sure I was taught this stuff in college, but I didn’t need it then and had no reason to retain it or even understand its practical application. Now that I need it, I don’t remember it.

Chapter 5 in our book is about polynomial functions, so that’s where we get models that have turning points and/or inflection points. There’s not going to be much of a flowchart there — just “Do you have turning points or inflection points? Then how many of each?” and the answer determines the degree of the polynomial.

This is a sort of unusual approach to take in a precalculus class, all this stats and data analysis, but I like it.