For over twenty-five years, the Math Doctors have enjoyed answering questions at Ask Dr. Math®, the question-and-answer service of The Math Forum. We have talked about all aspects of math, from homework questions, to work-related practical math, to “how” or “why” questions arising from curiosity or confusion. Unfortunately, in late 2017 the site stopped taking questions – but we don’t want to stop answering them! A group of us joined together to create this new site as a way to continue our mission of mentoring anyone who writes to us, and to move it up a level.
Note: In January 2021, the Ask Dr. Math site to which we frequently refer was moved from mathforum.org and drmath.org to https://www.nctm.org/tmf/dr.math/. Subsequently, the NCTM has made it accessible only to their members, contrary to their 2017 announcement that “The archives of Dr. Math will remain freely available on this website for the foreseeable future.”
If you, like us, consider those archives valuable, please join us in asking them to keep this resource open to the students and teachers around the world who have found it useful, and for whose benefit we Math Doctors volunteered our work for over 20 years.
We are hoping to see a change in this situation in the near future. In any case, we also expect to gradually transition to publishing primarily answers to new questions asked at this site.
Unlike other free math help sites, we are not a public discussion board, where anyone might answer your question (sometimes rudely or incorrectly), but a group of dedicated volunteers who care about doing it right, answering your questions privately and carefully. We then make the most generally useful discussions available in an edited form for the benefit of the public (with private information removed, of course). We want to provide a safe, comfortable environment for anyone to ask questions: from preschool through grad school, from basic arithmetic through college math, and from students, to parents, to teachers, to workers. We strive to be encouraging, helpful, polite – and correct. Teachers and students alike have trusted us for decades, and we are committed to continuing that tradition.
Our members have years of experience, starting with an “internship” in which we discussed our work with an experienced mentor (Dr. Ian, for many of us) who passed on to us the culture of the Math Doctors – how to give just the right amount of help rather than solving a problem for you, and how to interact patiently no matter what kind of question you have or how awkwardly you ask it.
The Ask Dr. Math archive still provides access to the thousands of good discussions that we archived under The Math Forum, out of hundreds of thousands of questions we answered there. We encourage you to look there first if you have a question, because there is a good chance we have already answered it. But often reading is not enough; you need interaction with someone who understands you. We’re here to give you whatever individual help you need. The blog plays the role of archive for current questions.
To ask a new question, go to the Ask a Question page (the Doctors’ Office). No registration is needed; just give us your name (it doesn’t have to be your full name) and email (which will never be published, but is needed to send a reply), and a little information about you (so we can have an idea of your level of knowledge), and ask away! (Make sure the address you give us is valid, and that our reply will not be treated as spam.)
Since our goal is not just to give you answers, but to help you learn to solve problems for yourself, we need to see your work and hear what is giving you trouble – just sending us a problem with no work will get you no more than a hint of how to start. If your question is a general one rather than a specific exercise, all the better – but even then, a specific example may help explain what you are asking.
You can upload a picture or other document to help show the details of the problem or your work. (But don’t rely on a picture to ask the entire question.) When you submit the question, we will send you an acknowledgment email telling you that we received it. When we reply, you will get another email. Follow the link it provides, read our answer, and write back if necessary.
The blog is where we discuss publicly what we have learned from past or recent conversations, adding value to the old archive and sharing insights from new questions. Each week we plan to post an exploration of a topic that has been dealt with in several ways over the years; there may also be a look at a favorite old answer that we run across in the course of our work (Archive Question of the Week), or an answer from recent months on this new site, to show what we are currently doing (New Question of the Week). These posts will introduce you to a wide variety of questions from the past and present, inviting you to explore the archive with us, and perhaps provoking further questions from you. Of course, feel free to respond to anything we write here, using the Comment section. But if you have a question for further discussion, it will be better to submit it as a new question, referencing the blog as needed.