# NQOTW

## Writing a Riemann Sum as an Integral

(A new question of the week) Riemann sums are used in defining the definite integral. But they can also be used in reverse: Sometimes you can be given the limit of a summation and asked to read it as a Riemann sum, and then turn it into an integral. Usually this is fairly straightforward; but …

## Fundamental Theorem of Calculus: a Tale of Two Parts

(A new question of the week) A recent question about the application of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus provided an opportunity to clarify what the theorem means in practice, and specifically how the two parts are and are not related. Misunderstandings like these are probably more common than many instructors realize! We’ll also glance at …

## Parallel Vectors: Missing a Solution

(A new question of the week) We were recently asked to check work on an interesting little question about parallel vectors, and I was almost convinced that there was no solution … until I realized there was one! How was it missed? How can we avoid doing that? That’s our goal today.

## A Surprising Route to a Differential Equation

(A new question of the week) We are often asked to help a student understand a solution to a problem, obtained from a book or a website, that is not fully explained there. Here, we’ll look at a rather odd demonstration that a function satisfies a differential equation, both figuring out what the author did, …

## Parentheses and the Associative and Distributive Properties

(A new question of the week) This week, we’ll look at two recent questions about how parentheses (brackets) are used, how they relate to the properties we use in algebra that let us add or drop them, and the related concept of factoring a polynomial. They are examples of how student questions can touch on …

## A Rational Equation, With and Without Extraneous Roots

(A new question of the week) Extraneous roots can not only confuse the final solution to a problem; they can also make it harder to solve in the first place if you don’t deal with them early. Here is a relatively complicated rational equation, two questions about its solutions, and several ways to make it …

## An Age Proportion Problem: Multiple Methods

(A new question of the week) Some problems can be done either by algebra or by basic arithmetic methods and some creativity; and although algebra generally makes work easier by making it routine, sometimes special-purpose thinking (once you have thought it!) can be quicker. Here we have a problem where a creative method didn’t quite …

## Is That Really a Polynomial?

(A new question of the week) We often see polynomials in a simplistic way, imagining that any function whose graph resembles a polynomial is a polynomial. Much as an attempt to mimic random data often lacks essential properties of genuine randomness, so what we intend to be a polynomial often is not. As we observe …

## Limits: Recognizing Indeterminate Forms

(A new question of the week) Limits of indeterminate forms like ∞ – ∞ require us first to recognize the form, and then, often, use L’Hôpital’s rule (also called L’Hospital’s rule, as we’ll be seeing it here), or some other method. Today’s question will touch on all stages of this work for three examples, but …

## Limits: What Does “Approach” Mean?

(A new question of the week) We’ve looked at the concept of limit of a function from several perspectives, including why they are needed, and what the definition means. Here we have a more fundamental question, which applies to both functions and sequences: What do we mean when we say a value approaches some number? …