# Formulas

## Finding Length of a Roll: Facing Reality

Last time we looked at how to find the length of material on a roll, making some necessary simplifications. Here, I want to look at some variations on that: first, about carpet in particular, and then about wire on a spool.

## Finding the Length of a Rolled-up Carpet

One of the more frequent questions we had on Ask Dr. Math was about how to find the length of material (carpet, paper, wire, etc.) on a roll, knowing only the inner and outer diameters and something else: the thickness of the material, or the number of turns, or the original size of the roll. …

## Why Do Logarithms Work That Way?

Last time, we introduced logarithms by way of their history. Here, we’ll look at their properties.

## Looks Like a Frustum, But …

Last time we looked at how to find the volume of a frustum of a pyramid or cone. But sometimes what looks at first like a rectangular frustum actually isn’t. This case turns out to have a more general formula almost as nice as what we have for an actual frustum. We’ll discover that the …

## Frustums: Not Frustrating but Fascinating

We’ve looked in the past at volumes and surface areas of familiar geometric shapes like spheres, pyramids, and cones; but more can be done. If we cut parallel to the base of a pyramid or cone, the result is called a frustum (no, not a frustrum!). Let’s derive some formulas, which will be remarkably simple.

## How Can 3×3 Determinants Give Both Area and Volume?

(A new question of the week) A recent question asked for the connection between two different ways to use determinants geometrically: to find the area of a triangle, and to find the volume of a pyramid (or the area of a parallelogram and the volume of a parallelepiped). Last time we looked at what a …

## Diluting a Solution: Math vs. Reality

Here is a little question about making a formula to dilute a solution; we’ll see how to do the algebra, and also how what we teach in math classes isn’t quite real.

## Two Triangle and Circle Problems

(A new question of the week) Several interesting geometry problems about triangles and circles came in recently. We’ll look at two today, and a third next week.

## A Challenging Homogeneous Second-Order Recurrence

(An archive question of the week) In preparing the last couple posts, on recurrence relations, I ran across an answer to a much harder question, that illustrates what it can take to solve one that doesn’t fit the convenient forms. It’s linear, but the coefficients are not constant as they have been in all our …

## Homogeneous Linear Recurrence Relations

Last week we looked at a recent question about recurrence relations, and I realized it needs a companion article to introduce these ideas. So here we will look at some answers from Ask Dr. Math about the simpler case, including general methods, why they work, and applications.