Data Modeling Using Finite Differences

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The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) states that high school students should be able to recognize patterns of growth in linear, quadratic, and exponential functions and construct such functions from tables of data (CCSSI 2010). Accordingly, many high school curricula include a method that uses finite differences between data points to generate polynomial functions. That is, students may examine differences between successive output values (called first differences), successive differences of the first differences (second differences), or successive differences of the (n - 1)th differences (nth-order differences), and rely on the following:

Contributor Notes

Kathryn Rhoads,, a former high school mathematics teacher, is a full-time lecturer at The University of Texas at Arlington, where she teaches undergraduate mathematics and graduate mathematics for teachers.

James A. Mendoza Alvarez,, is an associate professor of mathematics and Distinguished Teaching Professor at The University of Texas at Arlington, where he directs the Master of Arts in Mathematics program for secondary mathematics teachers.

(Corresponding author is Rhoads author is Mendoza Alvarez
The Mathematics Teacher


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