Introduction to Proportional Relationships and a Bit of Geometry

In the 2004 vice-presidential debates, Democratic contender John Edwards claimed that US forces have suffered “90% of the coalition casualties” in Iraq. Incumbent Vice President Dick Cheney disputed this, saying that in fact Iraqi security forces and coalition allies “have taken almost 50 percent” of the casualties.[1]

Who was correct? How can we make sense of these numbers?

In this section, we will show how the idea of percent is used to describe parts of a whole.  Percents are prevalent in the media we consume regularly, making it imperative that you understand what they mean and where they come from.

We will also show you how to compare different quantities using proportions.  Proportions can help us understand how things change or relate to each other.