# Higher math

## Two Worlds of Relations

Terminology and definitions in mathematics sometimes vary according to context. Here we’ll look at the ideas of relations, functions, and their domains, and discover that they look different from different perspectives.

## Cartesian Product of Sets

(A new question of the week) I had a long discussion recently about the Cartesian product of sets, answering questions like, “How is it Cartesian?” and “How is it a product?” I like discussions about the relationships between different concepts, and people who ask these little-but-big questions. We’ll be looking at about a quarter of …

## A Random Walk on a Graph

(A new question of the week) It seems that most of the interesting questions recently have been about relatively advanced topics, though commonly in introductory classes. Here, we’ll help a student think through a problem introducing the idea of a random walk on a graph. (“Graph” here doesn’t mean the graph of an equation, which …

## Proving Two Groups are Isomorphic

(A new question of the week) Two weeks ago, in Proving Certain Polynomials Form a Group, we joined a beginner in learning about groups. Here we will pick up where that left off, learning how to prove that the group we saw there, a subset of polynomials, is isomorphic to a group of matrices. As …

## Proving Certain Polynomials Form a Group

Abstract algebra can be a huge leap for many students, who may know algebra well, but are not used to abstraction – generalizing the concept of numbers so we can invent new kinds of “numbers” and “operations” and comparing their properties. Here we will look at a question from a student beginning the study of …

## Tangents of an Algebraic Curve

(A new question of the week) Some topics are hard to find information about at a basic level, because they are usually dealt with in advanced math courses, and yet the basic ideas can be understood without all the trappings. That is the case for the Affine Tangent Cone, which involves tangents to an algebraic …

## Graph Coloring: Working Through a Proof

(A new question of the week) The Math Doctors have different levels of knowledge in various fields; I myself tend to focus on topics through calculus, which I know best, and leave the higher-level questions to others who are more recently familiar with them. But sometimes, both here and in my tutoring at a community …

## Invariants for a State Machine

(A new question of the week) Although we focus in this blog on questions at early college level and below, we do get questions at higher levels. This one deals with finding an invariant for a finite state machine, with possible movements of a robot as the example.

## More on Uncountable Irrationals

(An archive question of the week) While I was researching for the post on uncountable sets, I ran across a discussion that didn’t quite fit, but raises interesting questions about how countable and uncountable sets can fit together. How can the rational numbers be countable, but the irrational numbers, which are closely intertwined with them, …

## Frequently Questioned Answers: Uncountable Infinities

We could continue forever discussing questions whose answers are frequently questioned; but let’s finish by looking at infinity itself. The concept is impossible to fully grasp, because we are finite, and all of our experience is finite. Mathematicians have worked out ways to deal with infinity, though, and the results are often counter-intuitive. That means …