Algebra

Simplifying Sums and Quotients of Radicals

(A new question of the week) A recent question asked about the reasons for differences in the work of simplifying different kinds of radical expressions. We’ll look at that general question, with two specific examples, and then consider an older problem of the same type.

Average Rate of Change of a Function

(A new question of the week) Average rate of change is a topic taught in pre-calculus and calculus courses, primarily as preparation for the derivative, though it has more immediate applications. A recent question asked about when the concept is valid, which I found interesting.

Help with Factoring: Trinomials

(A new question of the week) I recently had a pleasant discussion of factoring, with the kind of student for whom I returned to teaching: one who has been away from math for a while, and with greater maturity has the determination to succeed. We’ll see several examples of the “ac-grouping” method of factoring a …

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Fibonacci, Pascal, and Induction

A couple weeks ago, while looking at word problems involving the Fibonacci sequence, we saw two answers to the same problem, one involving Fibonacci and the other using combinations that formed an interesting pattern in Pascal’s Triangle. I promised a proof of the relationship, and it’s time to do that. And while we’re there, since …

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Domain and Range of a Radical Function

(A new question of the week) We’ve looked at domain and range problems before, but some have more interesting details than others. Here is a superficially basic radical function (and the answer is extremely easy when you just use a graphing tool), which raised some interesting issues while solving it algebraically.

Fibonacci Word Problems II: Challenging

Last week we looked at several basic word problems for which the Fibonacci sequence is part of the solution. Now we’ll look at two problem that take longer to explain: a variation on the rabbit story, and an amazing reverse puzzle.