A Proof Problem: Chords and Tangents

One thing we enjoy doing is guiding a student through the process of problem-solving. Here is a problem from August that illustrates how to think through a complicated geometrical proof. In particular, this uses some circle theorems involving chords, secants, and tangents, together with a bit of algebra.

More Handshake Problems

Last week we looked at problems about counting diagonals in a polygon, and the very similar problem of counting handshakes when everyone in a group shakes with everyone else. In the course of searching for those problems, I also found some very different problems that are also about handshakes. We’ll look at those here, just …

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The Opposite of Even is Odd … or Not?

(A new question of the week) A recent question raised some interesting issues related to the contrapositive of a logical statement, and how to negate a statement, similar to some past discussions. What universe you are in makes a big difference!

Invariants for a State Machine

(A new question of the week) Although we focus in this blog on questions at early college level and below, we do get questions at higher levels. This one deals with finding an invariant for a finite state machine, with possible movements of a robot as the example.

Proving the Law of Cosines

Last week we looked at several proofs of the Law of Sines. Here we will see a couple proofs of the Law of Cosines; they are more or less equivalent, but take different perspectives – even one from before trigonometry and algebra were invented!

Proving the Law of Sines

Two of the most useful facts in trigonometry are the Law of Sines and the Law of Cosines (sometimes called the Sine Rule or Sine Formula, and the Cosine Rule or Cosine Formula). Over the years we were often asked where they come from (or are just asked about them, and reflexively offer proofs). There …

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The Locker Problem

A classic problem we’ve seen hundreds of times involves students opening and closing lockers. I have often told people that, believe it or not, they could find the answer by searching the Ask Dr. Math site for the word “locker”. But I prefer to give them a reference to one of the answers in which …

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