Dave Peterson

(Doctor Peterson) A former software engineer with degrees in math, I found my experience as a Math Doctor starting in 1998 so stimulating that in 2004 I took a new job teaching math at a community college in order to help the same sorts of people face to face. I have three adult children, and live near Rochester, N.Y. I am the author and instigator of anything on the site that is not attributed to someone else.

What Are Independent Events?

The concept of independent events can be both very simple and easily misunderstood. We’ll be looking at several explanations of the idea, starting with the basics and then digging into some deeper questions that are often overlooked. What is independence? We can start with this question from 1998, asking for the basics: Independent and Dependent …

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Choosing the Most Appropriate Unit

We’ve been looking at measuring and drawing devices (compass, ruler, protractor); let’s move on to units of measurement. A fairly common question for students learning about measurement is, “What is the most appropriate unit for measuring ___?” The answer is not always clear, as we’ll see. General principles Here is a question from 2003: Choosing …

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Using a Protractor

Last time we looked at how to use a ruler to measure distances. This time, we’ll consider another common question over the years: how to use a protractor to measure angles. We’ll also consider the relationship between protractors and the compass and straightedge constructions that started this series on geometry tools. And just like last …

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Using a Ruler

Having just discussed why we use compass and straightedge in geometry, let’s flip that around and look at a common question at the more elementary level: How do you use a ruler to measure or draw a line of a given length? The usual issue here is working with the fractional markings on an inch …

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Compass and Straightedge: Why?

Some time ago I looked at questions about trisecting an angle by compass and straightedge, which entailed discussing the rules for such constructions. We left open another common question: Why are such constructions important, and why do we use those particular tools? This probably isn’t explained as often as it should be. Why does it …

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