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 …

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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.

Solving an Oblique Triangle, Part II

Last time we looked at solving triangles in the ASA, AAS, SSS, and SAS cases. We have one more case, which tends to be a little more complicated: the “ambiguous case”, SSA.

How Do You Simplify a Fraction?

Last time we examined the basic concept of equivalent fractions – the fact that different fractions can represent the same value. We saw that there will be one way to write a fraction that is “in lowest terms” – no other fraction with the same value will involve smaller numbers, and all the others can …

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Trigonometric Equations: An Overview

(A new question of the week) This week and next I will look at a recent discussion on trigonometry that dug deep into two different issues: solving equations, and proving identities. These are good summaries of how to approach these common kinds of problems. This week: solving basic trig equations.

L’Hôpital’s Rule: What and Why

The next few posts will look at a powerful technique for finding limits in calculus, called L’Hôpital’s Rule. Here, we’ll introduce what it is, and why it works. In the next post we’ll examine some harder cases.