## Measuring Water with Two Containers

(A new question of the week) A recent question about an old puzzle leads to multiple references to our archive.

(A new question of the week) A recent question about an old puzzle leads to multiple references to our archive.

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 …

(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); …

Integration: More Than One Way, More Than One Answer Read More »

Sometime soon I will do a series of posts on word problems, which are a common point of difficulty with students. But here is one recent example from a high school student, where language was the main difficulty, but the algebra is worth discussing as well. We’ll look a little more deeply into the problem …

(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 = …

(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.

Proving trigonometric identities can be a major challenge for students, as it is often very different from anything they have previously done. Often they confuse this concept with solving an equation. But also, they may be give overly rigorous standards to comply with. Here, I will look at several discussions we have had about different …

Different Ways to Prove a Trigonometric Identity Read More »

(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 …

(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 …

Mathematical Thinking Solves an Operation Puzzle (Or Not) Read More »

One of the harder types of question to answer effectively is a puzzle, which as I define it means that there is no routine way to solve it, so any hint would likely give away the answer. But sometimes these are only “puzzles” to us, because we don’t know the context that would have told …