Parallel Vectors: Missing a Solution

(A new question of the week) We were recently asked to check work on an interesting little question about parallel vectors, and I was almost convinced that there was no solution … until I realized there was one! How was it missed? How can we avoid doing that? That’s our goal today.

Why Properties Matter: Beyond Addition and Multiplication

We’ve been looking at the commutative, associative, and distributive properties of operations, starting at an introductory level. But why are these properties important? Why do they have names in the first place? And what other operations have them?

Commutative, Associative, and Distributive Properties

In working on last week’s post, I realized that I haven’t yet covered the general idea of properties, such as commutative, associative, and distributive. Here I’ll collect some introductory answers on that topic. Next week, we’ll dig a little deeper.

The Book Stacking Problem

(An archive question of the week) A recent question asked about a well-known problem about stacking books (or cards, or dominoes) so that the top one extends beyond the base, giving a link to one of many explanations of it – but one, like many, that doesn’t quite fill in all the details. Doctor Rick …

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An Age Proportion Problem: Multiple Methods

(A new question of the week) Some problems can be done either by algebra or by basic arithmetic methods and some creativity; and although algebra generally makes work easier by making it routine, sometimes special-purpose thinking (once you have thought it!) can be quicker. Here we have a problem where a creative method didn’t quite …

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Is That Really a Polynomial?

(A new question of the week) We often see polynomials in a simplistic way, imagining that any function whose graph resembles a polynomial is a polynomial. Much as an attempt to mimic random data often lacks essential properties of genuine randomness, so what we intend to be a polynomial often is not. As we observe …

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