# Higher math

## 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. First problem (relatively easy) The question came …

## 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 …

## A Very Different Kind of Sequence

(An archive problem of the week) While gathering sequence/pattern questions for my last post, I ran across a very different problem. Here we are told what the pattern is (a good example of one that you would probably never discover on your own), and asked some questions about later terms. It can be understood either …

## Greatest Common Divisor: Extending the Definition

Having just talked about definition issues in geometry, I thought a recent, short question related to a definition would be of interest. We know what the Greatest Common Divisor (GCD, also called the Greatest Common Factor, GCF, or the Highest Common Factor, HCF) of two numbers is; or do we? Negative GCD? Here is the …

## Edges and Faces: A Matter of Definition

(An archive question of the week) Having looked at the matter of faces, edges, and vertices from several different perspectives, I want to look at one more question and answer, to tie it all together. Definitions The question is from 2008: Definitions of Edge and Face in 2D and 3D Different resources define “edge” in …

## More on Faces, Edges, and Vertices: The Euler Polyhedral Formula

Last time we looked at how to count the parts of a polyhedron, and a mention was made of Euler’s Formula (also called the Descartes-Euler Polyhedral Formula), which says that for any polyhedron, with V vertices, E edges, and F faces, V – E + F = 2. We should take a close look at that simple, yet amazing, …

## What is Multiplication … Really?

I want to close out this series on multiplication with a very different kind of question. We have seen that multiplication of natural numbers can be modeled as a repeated sum of the multiplicand, taken the number of times indicated by the multiplier; and that the terms “multiplier” and “multiplicand” reflect only this model, not …