Euler’s Formula: Complex Numbers as Exponents

Last week we explored how the polar form of complex numbers gives multiplication a simple geometric meaning. Here we’ll go one more step, and express polar form exponentially, which makes DeMoivre’s theorem trivial, and gives us a simple notation to replace “cis”.

Limit of sin(x)/x

Last week we looked at some recent questions about limits, where we focused first on what limits are, in terms of graphs or tables, and then on finding them by algebraic simplification. This week, we’ll look at two old questions about a trigonometric limit that can’t be determined that way: sin(x)/x, as x approaches zero.

Two Tricky Questions on Tangent Lines

(A new question of the week) Sometimes we have lots of quick questions and a number of long discussions, neither of which seems suitable for a post. This time I’ve chosen to combine two distantly related questions, one recent and one from several months ago, both involving tangent lines to functions.

Equivalent Definitions of e

(A new question of the week) It is not unusual for mathematicians to define a concept in multiple ways, which can be proved to be equivalent. One definition may lead to a theorem, which another presentation uses as the definition, from which the original definition can be proved as a theorem. Here, in yet another …

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Separable Differential Equations

(A new question of the week) We received a couple different questions recently about solving differential equations by separation of variables, and why the method is valid. We’ll start with a direct question about it, and then look at an attempt at an alternate perspective using differentials.

Two Integration Puzzlers

Two recent questions (that came to us within two hours) dealt with apparent contradictions in integration. The first seems to give a result of zero that is clearly wrong; the second seems to give two different results for the same integral.