Q is for Quantify

| May 4, 2014

Quantification is a large topic to wrap my head around and get my thoughts on it clear enough to shrink into a decent blog post but here goes. You’ve been warned. The idea of quantification has become pervasive, or I’m just becoming aware of how important it is in everyday life. Almost everything is quantified from my internet actions, to my behavior in retail stores to my correct answers on the practice Stats exam.

Reading about quantification is helping separate the definitions in my brain. In math and empirical sciences quantification is the act of counting/measuring that maps human observations/experiences into a set of numbers, becoming a fundamental aspect of the scientific method. In logic quantification is the binding of a variable ranging over a domain of discourse, or binding a variable by an operator (quantifier). I did well in logic in undergrad and I forgot all about the universal quanitifier so I had to look it up and this is what I found  “The expression:  x P(x), denotes the universal quantification of the atomic formula P(x). Translated into the English language, the expression is understood as: “For all x, P(x) holds” or “for every x, P(x) holds”.’

In grammar quantifers are words such as all, many, every, some, most etc.  that indicate quantity. Quantifying behaviors seem to come up often in classes. Something that I discuss often, since I’m focusing on fundraising, is membership retention and figuring out the drivers of what causes people to give multiple gifts to an organization over a certain amount of time.  There are plenty of predictive models, expected growth percentages and targets to concern oneself with but sometimes the data feels so disconnected from the behavior that it’s hard to remember that these behaviors are based in human interaction and charitable motivations. Another example of data becoming so big it seems to stray from its original purpose is state testing in schools. I can see both sides to this story, one test is not the picture of a student and there are many more ways to predict future positive outcomes and to generate guidelines for government funding  but on the other hand it’s a decently painless way for the government to see what students are scoring the highest in certain areas. I think that current trends, especially as I continue to learn about marketing, will lead to data and quantification of everything becoming a part of our daily lives with and without our awareness. This is not a comment on if that  is a good thing or a bad thing because I honestly don’t know…just that it likely will be.

-quanity in education

-big data –> membership, marketing, etc.