Nutrition 209 Mathematics
Joke: The only prerequisite for Nutrition 209 is that
you can do arithmetic well enough to balance a checkbook so that your
tuition check clears...and we'll give you an exemption if you can get a
Well, that's a bit extreme. There are mathematics prerequisites.
And, the mathematics you need to know, you need to know!
However, all that's needed to be successful in Nutrition 209 is
facility with some topics from high school algebra. But,
anyone who is uneasy with any of these topics should see me
Students must be able to
Nutrition 209 does not demand a knowlege of calculus (differentiation &
integration), matrix algebra (correlation and covariance matrices are
introduced, but there is no manipulation of them), or linear algebra.
- plug values into a formula and simplify the expression to
obtain a final result. This skill is essential for calculating
fundamental quantities such as basic statistics and confidence
- solve a single equation with one unknown. This skill is
essential for taking a formula involving many quantities and determining
one of them when given the others. The ability to perform simple
algebraic manipulations is critical for understanding the connection
between concepts such as test statistics and confidence intervals or odds
plot and interpret linear (straight line) equations. This skill is
essential for understanding linear regression, which is the one of the
most commonly used statistical procedures.
- be comfortable with logarithms & exponents. Many studies
use a logarithmic transformation as part of the formal analyses, often
for sound biological reasons as well as for mathematical reasons.
Logistic regression, one of the most powerful epidemiologic tools, models
the logarithm of the odds of an event. A knowledge of logarithms is
essential in order to interpret data and analyses correctly.
There are some excellent Web-based tutorials that cover the required material.
At the moment, access to these sites is unrestricted. Please tell me if
any of them become unavailable. More sites can located by using a search
engine and applying the search criteria of <topic> and
tutorial. Let me know if you find other useful sites that you
- There is a very nice math primer at Columbia University.
- Tutorials on logarithms are available at
- An excellent tutorial on graphs was
developed at Syracuse University under a grant by the Fund for the
Improvement of Postsecondary Education. Unfortunately, I have not been
able to find other Web-based FIPSE-funded mathematical projects.
Traditional printed review texts can be found in libraries and
bookstores. The necessary material is usually contained in sections
labeled (Linear) Equations, Graphs, and Logarithms and
Exponents. If the review series splits algebra into multiple volumes,
the material is typically found in the second volume, called Algebra
II or Intermediate Algebra. I've noticed there isn't as much
practice material as I'd like for the specific areas mentioned here, but
perhaps it's unfair to ask more of a review text.
There are computer based instruction materials (CD-ROM), too, but I
don't have any specific information about them.
Copyright © 2000 Gerard E.