Publication Details

This article was originally published as Nillsen, R, An application of elementary functions to a resource allocation problen, Australian Senior Mathematics Journal, 2006 (in press). Journal information available here.


This paper looks at a problem of resource allocation and analyses the changes and their implications when a particular method of resource allocation is changed, by altering the relative importance of two criteria. The situation considered in the paper arose specifically in the West Report on higher education in Australia (1998), where the possibility of altering the relative importance of research and teaching in allocating university funds in Australia was raised. This possibility was the subject of an article in The Australian newspaper by David Phillips, a former Head of the Higher Education Division in the Department of Employment, Education, Training and youth affairs. The paper here considers the original problem from both a general and mathematical viewpoint. There is a changing environment in the allocation of resources in public policy, with more emphasis on allocating funds, status or recognition on the basis of specific criteria and performance. Even where the analysis in this paper is not directly applicable to all such problems, the modes of thought used here may illustrate the potential usefulness of elementary mathematical thinking for general issues of public policy, and resource allocation in particular. Further details are on the author’s website at http://www.uow.edu.au/~nillsen