Algebra

Domain, Range, and Quadratic Inequalities

(A new question of the week) We had a long discussion last August about domain and range of functions involving either quadratic functions or restricted domains (or both). Two Math Doctors got involved, offering different ways to approach the same problem. I’ve edited the discussion to avoid some intermingling of topics. A quadratic inequality Here …

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Order of Operations: Fractions, Evaluating, and Simplifying

(An archive problem of the week) Last time we looked at the subtle distinction between the order of operations, which defines the meaning of an expression, and properties that allow us to do something other than what an expression literally says. Here I want to look at one longer discussion that brings out these issues …

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Order of Operations: Subtle Distinctions

Some questions we have been asked about the order of operations go beyond the what and why, pondering the relationship of the conventions both to theoretical matters (properties of operations) and to practical matters (evaluating and simplifying expressions). We will see here an important distinction between meaning and processes. PEMDAS vs properties, I: Meaning vs. …

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Order of Operations: Why?

Having looked at what the order of operations convention means, another common question is, why is it what it is? We’ll look at some basic ideas here, focusing on why we need a convention at all, and why the one we have makes sense; then next time we’ll dig in a little deeper, examining some …

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