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 …

Cartesian Product of Sets Read More »

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 …

A Random Walk on a Graph Read More »

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, …

More on Uncountable Irrationals Read More »

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 …

Frequently Questioned Answers: Uncountable Infinities Read More »