AQOTW

How Many Different Pizzas?

(An archive question of the week) We’ve been looking at examples of extended discussions with students about various kinds of problems. Here, we have one (not from a student) that led to some good thinking about combinatorics – the techniques of counting the ways something can happen. The problem: Triple toppings Here’s the question, from …

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Too Many Variables?

(An archive question of the week) Students often struggle with solving an equation with several variables, for one of those variables. This is also called “solving a formula”, or a “literal equation”; or “making one variable the subject”. Learning to use variables instead of just numbers (as we looked at last week) is the first …

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Too Much Guessing?

Today we’ll look at a question from a student who was troubled by the amount of guessing needed to solve certain problems. This leads to an interesting survey of different kinds of guessing, and ways to develop that skill. When do we need to guess in math? The question is from 2017: More Methodical Than …

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When Parameters Become Variables

(An archive question of the week) I’m looking for past questions that led to deep discussions. This week, we have a case where a student realized he was doing algebra by rote, not thinking about what variables really mean. This realization was triggered by a step that many students stumble over, where parameters change their …

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More on 0.999…

(An archive question of the week) In collecting questions and answers about 0.999… for the last post, there were two that were too long to include, but that dig more deeply into issues that some of the standard answers tend to gloss over. So here, I want to look at those two answers, both of …

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Complicating the Converse

(An archive question of the week) Usually when we discuss converses (and inverses and contrapositives) we use clear, idealized examples. But statements in real life — even in real math — are not quite so straightforward. The difficulty is not merely in the language, but in the complexity of our statements. A question in the …

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