Proofs

How to Think About the Product and Quotient Rules

Last time, we considered the Chain Rule for derivatives. This time, we’ll look at the product and quotient rules, focusing on how to keep the formulas straight, and make them easier to apply. We’ll look primarily at the quotient rule to start with, and then examine the product rule at the end.

Is Zero Really a Number?

A recent comment on the site raised questions about zero, beyond what we have discussed in the past about division by zero. Here we’ll look at basic questions about whether zero is actually a number at all, and then about multiplication by zero, which confuses a lot of people.

Euler’s Formula: Complex Numbers as Exponents

Last week we explored how the polar form of complex numbers gives multiplication a simple geometric meaning. Here we’ll go one more step, and express polar form exponentially, which makes DeMoivre’s theorem trivial, and gives us a simple notation to replace “cis”.

Negative x Negative = Positive? Abstract Proofs

Last time we looked at explanations for the product of negative numbers in terms of various concrete models or examples. But it really requires a mathematical proof, as we’ll explain and demonstrate here, first with a couple different proofs, then with the bigger picture, giving the context of such proofs.

Why Does a² + b² = c² in a Hyperbola?

(A new question of the week) In an ellipse, \(\frac{x^2}{a^2}+\frac{y^2}{b^2}=1\) with focal distance c, parameters a, b, and c all make natural sense, and it is easy enough to see why \(a^2 = b^2 + c^2\). But in the hyperbola, \(\frac{x^2}{a^2}-\frac{y^2}{b^2}=1\), the equivalent relationship, \(a^2 + b^2 = c^2\), is not nearly as natural, nor …

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Equivalent Definitions of e

(A new question of the week) It is not unusual for mathematicians to define a concept in multiple ways, which can be proved to be equivalent. One definition may lead to a theorem, which another presentation uses as the definition, from which the original definition can be proved as a theorem. Here, in yet another …

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