# Month: October 2020

## Multiplying Fractions and Decimals

(A new question of the week) Let’s look at a quick question from mid-September, that had a number of different answers. In some ways, this is an easy question; but we’ll take it a little further, so keep reading to the end. Can I multiply a fraction and a decimal? Azraf asked: Can I multiply …

## Four Kinds of “Mean”

Last week, we looked at exactly what the mean is, referring specifically to the arithmetic mean, the one we first learn as the “average”. But just as we previously saw that there are several things called “average” (mean, median, mode), there are in fact several different kinds of “mean”. We’ll look here at the arithmetic, …

## A Limit: Getting the Algebra Right

(A new question of the week) I have often said that calculus class is where many students finally learn algebra, because now algebra is an essential tool, not just something to learn for an exam. This is especially true of a nontraditional student, who may not have taken math recently, or may even be learning …

## Making the Mean More Meaningful

Last week, we started a series on averages, looking at a common list of three kinds of average: the mean, median, and mode. This time, we’ll focus in on the (arithmetic) mean, thinking about why it is appropriate for many applications; that will lead into next week’s discussion of when other kinds of mean are …

## A Proof Problem: Chords and Tangents

One thing we enjoy doing is guiding a student through the process of problem-solving. Here is a problem from August that illustrates how to think through a complicated geometrical proof. In particular, this uses some circle theorems involving chords, secants, and tangents, together with a bit of algebra. The problem Here is the problem (I’ve …

## Three Kinds of “Average”

There are three different statistics that are commonly taught as “averages”, or “measures of central tendency”, of a set of numbers: mean, median, and mode. (There are others as well, which we will get to later.) What are they? How do they differ? How do you use them? We’ll look into questions like these as …

## A Finite Series Workout

(A new question of the week) A question from the end of August led a student and a Math Doctor to an extra challenge, by way of an apparent typo in the problem. We particularly enjoy working with students who are willing to take on extra work in order to learn more than they need …

## Cutting Up Space Using n Planes

As the capstone of this series on counting, lets look at something that’s a little harder to count by drawing: What is the maximum number of regions into which all of 3-dimensional space can be divided by n planes? We’ll look at two significantly different perspectives. Working up through the dimensions The first question is …

## A Test Dilemma: Do As You’re Told, or Do What’s Right?

(A new question of the week) Some questions we get, while small, raise interesting issues. In a question we got last month, there are several little issues pertaining to how the final answer should be chosen; as is often the case, it seems that a diligent student who cares about accuracy might be penalized. This …