# Formulas

## 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.

## Finding the Area of a Circle

Students often wonder where the formula for the area of a circle comes from; and knowing something about that can help make it more memorable, as I discussed previously about other basic area formulas.

## Principles for Solving a Formula

(An archive question of the week) Last time I discussed issues that arise in solving a simple algebraic equation. In researching that, I found a discussion of solving a formula for a variable (which in some countries is called “making x the subject”, that is, changing an equation involving x into the form “x = …

## Is Area of a Square a Circular Argument?

(New Question of the Week) I love it when students want to know why something has to be the way it is, and are not satisfied just being told to use a formula. Last month, Shunya asked this kind of question, which gave me a chance to refer to our archive and go beyond it.

## Arrhenius Equation: Which Graph is Right?

(New Question of the Week) Occasionally we get questions challenging the correctness of a textbook problem, or of a test grade. And sometimes we get questions about mathematics used in sciences like physics or chemistry, which lead us to explore unfamiliar fields. The most interesting question this week is one of these. It is one …

## When Do I Add or Multiply in Probability?

Probability is a subject in which it can be quite difficult to see at a glance what method to use. There are many ways in which its ideas can be combined. Two principal ways are “or” and “and”: What is the probability that I draw an ace or a spade? How about an ace and …