Strategies

Studying Math: Want a Challenge?

Many students who write to us are involved in math competitions. They don’t always say that explicitly, but we can tell when the problems they ask about may be far beyond ordinary homework, requiring deeper problem-solving skills. The three questions I’ll look at today are from students asking how to prepare for these competitions, or …

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Integration: More Than One Way, More Than One Answer

(An archive question of the week) In searching for answers to include in Monday’s post on calculus fallacies, I ran across a long discussion that illustrates some important aspects of methods of integration. In particular, there are often multiple ways to find an integral (the best not necessarily being the one taught in your textbook); …

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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 = …

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Proving an Identity in Different Ways

(A new question of the week) Having discussed trigonometric identities on Monday, let’s make this Trig Week, by looking at a discussion from two months ago in which we were asked about alternative routes to a proof.

Challenging Rate Questions

(New question of the week) A conversation last week went through a number of interesting questions, starting with a couple on percentages, and moving into some that I would call rate questions. I will extract these, which I think will be useful for others. (The rest could, too, but there was just too much there …

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Mathematical Thinking Solves an Operation Puzzle (Or Not)

(Archive problem of the week) Having just written about sequence puzzles, which sometimes can be solved mathematically, and sometimes are just psychological tests, I want to show a different kind of puzzle that I ran across while searching for those. At first, it looks like mere guess-and-check; then we find it can be solved easily …

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