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Functions in Calculus textbook do not reflect behavior in Nature

  1. Sep 19, 2007 #1
    Hopefully this isn't a foolish question but, I am up to CalcII and am anxious to apply what I've learned but have found nature fails to provide functions for it's behaviour like text books do. Is there a book or something I can read to develop this skill?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 19, 2007 #2


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    Electricity & Magnetism; upper division and some lower division Physics courses.
  4. Sep 19, 2007 #3
    I'm an electrical engineering student so I don't think that will be a problem. I am looking for a general approach to modeling. IE what to do after you have collected data. I don't want to just plug things into equations I want to be able to take anything I come across and try to model it mathematically
  5. Sep 19, 2007 #4
    this is much more difficult problem than you think. there is no general algorithm that tells you how to devise a model that approximates the world. there are many books that tell you how to model things that have already been figured out though.
  6. Sep 19, 2007 #5
    Is that to say it is diffucult to find a function that represents collected real world data and it's not just that I have missed something?
  7. Sep 19, 2007 #6
    you're basically talking about theoretical physics here where people take a bunch of data, think about the phenomena they represent, make a couple of assumptions, make up some math that is closely in accord with that data and then make predictions using that math. if their predictions come true then their model is good.

    so finding a function that represents a bunch of data maybe difficult or easy but whether you can use that function to make predictions is a completely different game.

    for example take two data points. i can always find a line that contains those two data points. will other data points from that process also lie on that line?
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