What is a Function, Really?

A recent question, from Anindita, touched on the relationship of functions, relations, and rules. I referred to several answers we’ve given, which I’d long planned to put into a post (or two). This is it! We’ll start with a set of questions about what functions are.

A Hen and a Half …

Last week, we looked at problems involving some number of people making some number of things in some amount of time. In a classic twist on this problem, we’ll now examine several variants starting with “If a hen and a half can lay an egg and a half …”. Can we make sense of half-eggs …

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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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