The New York Times Doesn’t Know Any Math Teachers

Michael Cieply for The New York Times:

The Interview generated roughly $15 million in online sales and rentals during its first four days of availability, Sony Pictures said on Sunday. Sony did not say how much of that total represented $6 digital rentals versus $15 sales. The studio said there were about two million transactions over all.

We gotcha covered, Mike!

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Featured Comment

Stas, with a zinger for the ages:

Probably they took advice from this guy.

Angela Ensminger:

Maybe an opening question to this problem would be:. Do you think Sony had more rentals or more sales? This could lead to some interesting discussions before actually solving the problem.

[h/t Math Curmudgeon]

About 
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. More here.

20 Comments

  1. You might get another side job with NY Times, if you keep that up!

    Would be great to get students to send in their solutions. Just bombard them with it. Could prompt an article with a title like: “Math: More useful in the real world than society realizes!”

    I’m sure we could do better on the title.

  2. This is why I love your blog. I read the same story and didn’t even think about the math or to set up a system. This is truly the kind of stuff that will connect with many students. Real story, interesting, current, real math, real money. Thank you.

    @aanthonya

  3. Dennis: I believe the $15 sales were the sales of the online digital version, not theater ticket prices. The quote from the story above doesn’t actually bring ticket sales in to the equation at all.

    For example, Google Play, X-Box Video and YouTube had it for rent at $5.99 and for sale at $14.99, and Sony’s seetheinterview.com had it for rent for $5.99, so pricing was the same across all platforms, so at least that kept the math easy!

  4. Or, conversely, maybe we should compensate Mr. Cieply for providing us with such an elegant word problem? Think of the money we could save: instead of textbooks, we could just subscribe to the Times!

  5. Angela Ensminger

    December 30, 2014 - 8:58 am -

    I am so glad I am not the only one who thought this. I had quickly calculated a reasonable estimate as I read the article. Maybe an opening question to this problem would be:. Do you think Sony had more rentals or more sales? This could lead to some interesting discussions before actually solving the problem.

  6. Concretely, each dollar away from “roughly $15 million” changes x and y by 1/9 (in the opposite directions); each transaction away from “about two million” changes x by 5/3 and y by 2/3 (also in the opposite directions). Here is how to find it with Wolfram Alpha.

  7. To the earlier ideas about making this a focus of a math exploration, I’m on the fence about whether this is an interesting question. I mean, frankly, I don’t really care how many rentals vs sales they had and I’m the kind of person who solves systems of equations for fun, so will kids?

    On the other hand, a discussion about whether it is better to rent or buy movies? That sounds interesting and could probably incorporate many of the same concepts from algebra.

  8. Hi Dan, I loved this article and all the comments below it. One comment mentioned your TEDxNYED talk, so I just watched that too. Loved it! I used to teach high school math (mostly Geometry and Algebra 2) and you are so on-target about how to adjust the problem to encourage patient problem solving, deeper understanding, and better student engagement! Keep up the great work! :)

    Your TED talk video link if others want to find it quickly: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_meyer_math_curriculum_makeover?language=en#t-681342