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Suitable for classroom adoption in an innovative course for:
This book has a dual objective: first, to introduce the reader to some of the most important and widespread environmental issues of the day; and second, to illustrate the vital role played by mathematical models in investigating these issues. The environmental issues addressed include: ground-water contamination, air pollution, and hazardous material emergencies. These issues are presented in their full real-world context, not as scientific or mathematical abstractions; and for background readers are invited to investigate their presence in their own communities.
The first part of the book leads the reader through relatively elementary modeling of these phenomena, including simple algebraic equations for ground water, slightly more complex algebraic equations (preferably implemented on a spreadsheet or other computerized framework) for air pollution, and a fully computerized modeling package for hazardous materials incident analysis. The interplay between physical intuition and mathematical analysis is emphasized.
The second part of the book returns to the same three subjects but with a higher level of mathematical sophistication (adjustable to the preparation of the reader by selection of subsections.) Many important classical mathematical themes are developed through this context, examples coming from single and multivariable calculus, differential equations, numerical analysis, linear algebra, and probability. The material is presented in such a way as to minimize the required background and to encourage the subsequent study of some of these fields.
An elementary course for a general audience could be based entirely on Part I, and a higher level mathematics, science, or engineering course could move quickly to Part 2. The exercises in both parts tend to be quite thought-provoking and considerable course time might be well devoted to discussing their solutions, perhaps even in a seminar format. The emphasis throughout is on fundamental principles and concepts, not on achieving technical mastery of state-of-the-art-models.
The author of this book is particularly well suited to writing about the subject. Starting off as a mathematics professor, he spent 13 years as an environmental consultant before returning to the classroom. Thus, many of the examples, experiences, and insights in the book are realistic and convincing. Read the full review.