Prime Factorization of a Number (Advanced)

Last time we looked at basic methods for finding the prime factorization of a number. Here we will look at some special techniques for large numbers, demonstrating them for not-too-large numbers. This takes us a step beyond previous tests that told us whether a number was composite, without actually factoring them.

Prime Factorization of a Number (Basics)

I’ll close this series on prime numbers by looking at how to find the prime factorization of a number, starting with the most basic ideas applicable to relatively small numbers, and then (next week) looking at some advanced methods for larger numbers.

Prime Numbers: Making a List

We’ve looked at what prime numbers are, and how the concept extends (or doesn’t) to 0, 1, and negative integers. The next question many students have is, how can I make a list of prime numbers (or write a computer program to do so)? We’ll learn about the Sieve of Eratosthenes, and list all the …

Prime Numbers: Making a List Read More »

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.

Non-homogeneous Recurrence Relations

(A new question of the week) A recent question asked us to find errors in solving recurrence relations by the method of undetermined coefficients. We’ll see several things that can go wrong, and correct some misunderstandings.

Help with Factoring: Trinomials

(A new question of the week) I recently had a pleasant discussion of factoring, with the kind of student for whom I returned to teaching: one who has been away from math for a while, and with greater maturity has the determination to succeed. We’ll see several examples of the “ac-grouping” method of factoring a …

Help with Factoring: Trinomials Read More »

Implicit Differentiation: Explanation, Examples, and a Surprise

In response to a recent request for information about implicit differentiation (hi, Brian!), let’s take a look at that topic. It happens to be distantly related to Friday’s topic, which was about implicitly defined curves. We’ll start with a thorough explanation, and then look at several specific examples, capping it off with a weird one.