Alternatives

The Symmetric Derivative

To close out this series on the definition of the derivative, I want to look at a few questions about alternative versions of the definition, primarily the “symmetric difference quotient”. We’ll see that this leads to a slightly different result, not always equivalent to the original, and we’ll observe some associated ways that calculators can …

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Challenging Inverse Trig and Polynomial Equations

(A new question of the week) We have had a lot of interesting questions recently. This one involved inverse trigonometric equations that led to cubic and quartic equations. We’ll observe here one of the benefits of embedding the original discussion in a blog format where I can add information that will help you, the reader, …

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Oblique Triangles in Applications

Having just looked at how to solve oblique triangles, let’s look at a couple “word problems” (applications) involving such triangles. We’ll be using the Law of Sines, and also exploring alternative methods of solution. A tilted tree Let’s start with this real application from 1999: Will the Tree Hit the House? There is a tree …

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More About Independent Events

Last time, we looked at the basic definition of independent events. This time I want to explore some deeper questions about the concept. Independence by the numbers We’ve seen that, informally, we think of independent events as not affecting one another’s probabilities. Mathematically, though, independence is defined by the fact (which is implied by that …

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Order of Operations: Why?

Having looked at what the order of operations convention means, another common question is, why is it what it is? We’ll look at some basic ideas here, focusing on why we need a convention at all, and why the one we have makes sense; then next time we’ll dig in a little deeper, examining some …

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