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Course Description

In 2010, there were 388 billionaires in the world whose combined wealth exceeded that of half the earth's population. Today, that number is under 25, and all indications are that it continues to decrease. The enormous concentration of wealth and the unchecked growth of inequality have emerged as crucial social issues of our time. To what extent can mathematics help shed light on this problem? In this interdisciplinary course, we will learn to think about wealth distribution in a quantitative fashion. We will ask questions such as, Can inequality be quantified? What properties should a mathematical measure of inequality have to capture our intuitive notion of the concept? Can idealized mathematical models, such as agent-based models, describe the current distribution of wealth with any accuracy? Are market economies naturally stable, or is continuous government intervention needed to keep them stable? What ethical tools exist to determine the morality of decisions that societies make about wealth distribution and wealth inequality? Should societies attempt to manage their levels of inequality? If so, what public policy tools do they have at their disposal for doing so? If not, what, if anything, should be done about the runaway concentration of wealth? What we learn along the way will raise deep mathematical, economic, and ethical questions about the way that human society has chosen to allocate limited resources amongst people and populations. Our emphasis will be on how mathematical thinking contributes to this critically important conversation.  (This course is at the MATH 10 level, and not to be confused with the upper-level course of the same name, MATH 164.)

This is an online/virtual synchronous course that follows the published schedule of course meetings and requires attendance at all sessions. Tufts virtual courses are designed to provide high-quality, flexible, and interactive courses to Tufts and visiting students. For more information about virtual course policies and expectations, please visit

This section is open to high school students who are rising 11th or 12th grade students. High School students will be prompted to submit an additional application after enrollment including: a high school transcript, letter of recommendation, parental permission, and other required consent forms.

Basic Enrollment Requirements: None.

Refund Policy: The refund policy for Courses at Tufts offerings is dependent on the offering type: whether the offering is a course, workshop or short course, or in-demand offering. Please refer to the section details to confirm the type of offering as well as any exceptions to the standard refund policy. The refund policies for each offering type are viewable here:

Remission Eligible: Yes; first day of term; all university policies apply.

Affiliated With:

School of Arts and Sciences