# Formulas

## Percent Change: Working Backward

Having discussed how to calculate the percent change between two numbers, and how to apply such a change to one number to get a new number, we need to look at what may be one of the most common types of questions we get: reversing a percent change (increase or decrease) to find the original …

## Percent Change: Finding and Applying It

A question we got in March asked about working with percent increases. As I replied to this rather common topic, referring to an archived answer, I was reminded that this would is a very common type of question, and would be a good topic to cover in the blog. So that will be the topic …

## Polygon Coordinates and Areas

We’ve been collecting techniques for finding areas of polygons, mostly using their side lengths. We started with triangles (Heron’s formula), then quadrilaterals (Bretschneider’s formula and Brahmagupta’s formula), and the fact that the largest possible area is attained when the vertices lie on a circle. We’ll look at one more way to find area, using coordinates …

Last time we looked at applying Heron’s formula to problems about the area of a triangle, where knowing the side lengths is enough to determine the area; there was a passing mention of the fact that more is needed for quadrilaterals. We’ll start here with a repeat of that idea, and then look at several …

## Area of a Triangle: Heron’s Formula II

Last time we looked at a very useful formula for finding the area of any triangle, given only the lengths of its sides. Today I want to look at several problems in which the formula has been used, some of them surprising.

## Area of a Triangle: Heron’s Formula I

There is a beautiful formula for the area of a triangle, which many students unfortunately never get to see. In this post we’ll look at that formula and three ways to prove it; next time, I’ll show some examples of how useful it can be. (By the way, you’ll also see it called “Hero’s Formula”, …

## Finding the Median of Grouped Data

(An archive question of the week) Last time we looked at a formula for approximating the mode of grouped data, which works well for normal distributions, though I have never seen an actual proof, or a statement of conditions under which it is appropriate. We have also received questions about a much more well-known, and …

## Finding the Mode of Grouped Data

The mode of a list of data values is simply the most common value (or values … if any). When data is grouped (binned) as in a histogram, we normally talk only about the modal class (the class, or group, with the greatest frequency), because we don’t know the individual values. But some sources teach …

## Permutations and Combinations: An Introduction

We have seen a number of questions recently about combinatorics: the study of methods for counting possibilities. These topics are studied at all levels of mathematical education, from elementary (where they might just be called counting) to high school (where they are often learned along with probability) to college (where they are part of “discrete …

## Finding the Radius of a Sphere

(An archive question of the week) An interesting question came to us in 2016, where rather than using a well-known formula, it was necessary to work out both what data to use, and how to calculate the desired radius.