We have already discussed much of Chapter 16 (permutations, combinations, general counting, etc.) and so we continued by formally entering that chapter today.

The Population of the United States

Congratulations! You are one of the few courses, perhaps the only, I have taught where a full half of the students know the population of the United States to within 10%. I asked you to write the population of the United States on a paper and pass it in. We had responses anywhere between 5 million and 1.5 billion. The correct answer, as of July, 2012, is roughly 313,914,000.

What happens when someone doesn’t know the population of their own country? A possible answer, for those that think the United States is big enough to have 1.5 billion people, is that one could potentially feel very distanced from their government.

We performed the same experiment with the population of Colorado, which is roughly 5,187,000. Again, your answers were mostly correct. Good job.

Social Security Numbers

We discussed social security numbers, how they are assigned, how repetitive (or not) they are, and so on. Much of the information I presented in class, beyond the text, can be found in the Wikipedia article. I also discussed telephone numbers in the United States and the difference between how they used to be assigned (for rotary dial, and based on distance) and how they are currently assigned and used.

An oddity with the U.S. system for assigning such numbers: We generally don’t allow them to start in zero.


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