Is Algebra Necessary?


” Is Algebra Necessary? “ That was the headline in a New York Times op-ed in 2012. Perhaps New York Times reporters could use a dose.  The following is from the December 28, 2014 issue:

NY Times Lede Is Algebra Necessary?

NY Times Lede (click image for a larger version)

Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) pointed out the problem on Twitter:

Dan Meyer's Markup Is Algebra Necessary?

Dan Meyer’s Markup (click image for a larger version)

Let’s see. Let x be the number of digital rentals and y be the number of sales. We know x + y = 2,000,000. We also know $6x + $15y = $15,000,000. Any student in my economics principles class who could not solve this would not pass the course. But, for the edification of Times reporters, here’s the solution.


I hope this helps people understand why algebra is useful.