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In 1965 Gordon Moore, computer scientist and Intel co-founder, predicted that computer processor speeds would double every two years. Twelve years later the first modern video game console, the Atari 2600, was released.

In this lesson, students write an exponential function based on the Atari 2600 and Moore's Law, and research other consoles to determine whether they've followed Moore's Law.

Students will

  • Apply an exponential growth model, stated verbally, to various inputs
  • Generalize with an exponential function to model processor speed for a given year
  • Research actual processor speeds, and compare them to the model's prediction
  • Calculate the annual growth rate of the model (given biannual growth rate)
  • Use technology to model the actual processor speeds with an exponential function
  • Interpret the components of the regression function in this context, and compare them to the model

Before you begin

Students should be familiar with the meaning of and notation for exponents, square roots, percent growth and the basics of exponential functions of the general form y = abx. Students will need to enter data in calculator lists and perform an exponential regression, so if they're inexperienced with this process, you will need time to demonstrate.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices

Additional Materials

  • Graphing calculators
  • Computers with Internet access