Recently, for the fifth consecutive year, the Calculus III with Analytic Geometry class welcomed Dr. Wood, a professor of Economics at the University of Tampa. Dr. Wood showed our students how constrained optimization is applied in consumer theory.
Using the Lagrangian approach introduced in the Calculus III course, they worked through the neoclassical model of consumer behavior to derive how agents make optimal consumption choices subject to scarcity, how they can apply the results of the model to derive a demand curve, and how they can examine how changes in the world impact behavior by moving us along or shifting that demand curve.
They also analyzed how this shows the impact of consumption and income on consumer happiness (that we have diminishing marginal utility for goods/services, as well as income). This is the basis of a model (and its more advanced variants) used by governments, companies, think tanks/NPOs, etc. to
understand and predict behavior.
Dr. Wood’s presentation gave our students a unique opportunity to see how
Calculus III is applied beyond the classroom.