For questions related to the teaching and learning of mathematics. Note that Mathematics Educators StackExchange may be a better home for narrowly scoped questions on specific issues in mathematics education.

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Books that develop interest & critical thinking among high school students

I heard about Yakov Perelman and his books. I just finished reading his two volumes of Physics for Entertainment. What a delightful read! What a splendid author. This is the exact book I've been ...
17
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7answers
778 views

Exciting games and material to motivate children to math

We are a group of people trying to motivate children, especially living in the countryside, to science and math. We have different activities with children such as doing scientific experiments and ...
17
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6answers
3k views

What does Khan Academy have to offer? Depth? Rigor?

Khan Academy - http://www.khanacademy.org/ - is often cited as a great online resource for learning mathematics and other subjects. I have heard many good things about this website and was wondering ...
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4answers
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Guidelines for learning about Ramanujan's work?

It is well known that one of the first books Ramanujan studied was "Synopsis of Pure and Applied Mathematics" and that it shaped the way Ramanujan thought and wrote about mathematics. Being interested ...
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15answers
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What concepts were most difficult for you to understand in Calculus? [closed]

I'm developing some instructional material for a Calculus 1 class and I wanted to know from experience for yourself, tutoring others, and/or helping people on this site where is the most difficulty in ...
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8answers
1k views

When is something “obvious”?

I try to be a good student but I often find it hard to know when something is "obvious" and when it isn't. Obviously (excuse the pun) I understand that it is specific to the level at which the writer ...
12
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1answer
362 views

How to Self-Study Mathematical Methods?

Edit: Ok, user Chinny84 made comment that truly helps narrow the focus of my question. Basically, I'm asking for a self-study course of Mathematical Methods. Thanks to his recommendation I ...
8
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3answers
685 views

Which of these courses to take if one intends to go to grad school in pure math (rank please)

could you rank these classes in terms of necessity to take if I intend to pursue a Ph.D in pure math? I don't know if I can fit everything, but I want to make sure I take the most important ones: ...
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4answers
3k views

Self-teaching myself math from pre-calc and beyond.

Going to be starting grade 12 (pre-calculus) shortly and looking to get ahead. I would like to try some more rigorous stuff on my own and have a couple questions. Ideally I would like to be prepared ...
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3answers
350 views

University-level books focusing on intuition?

I help some students with difficulties in Mathematics and Physics (especially math, physics, and engineering majors). While in high school they usually don't study, or are not interested, etc., in ...
11
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4answers
318 views

Should the domain of a function be inferred?

It is a common practice to have students of elementary algebra infer the domain of a function as an exercise. I believe this is contrary to the spirit of the definition of a function as a collection ...
8
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1answer
398 views

Some maps of the land of mathematics?

This question is motivated by a little anecdote. I was at home teaching some secondary school math to a relative. At some relax time, he glanced at a book I had over the table - it was some text about ...
10
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3answers
643 views

Why this proof $0=1$ is wrong?(breakfast joke)

We have $$e^{2\pi i n}=1$$ So we have $$e^{2\pi in+1}=e$$ which implies $$(e^{2\pi in+1})^{2\pi in+1}=e^{2\pi in+1}=e$$ Thus we have $$e^{-4\pi^{2}n^{2}+4\pi in+1}=e$$ This implies ...
9
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4answers
644 views

The Power of Taylor Series

I am teaching a Calculus class and we are finishing up power/Taylor series this week. The last section of the chapter is on applications, but the only ones listed there are approximating non-rational ...
5
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2answers
489 views

Programs for precocious prodigies

I am the director of my university's mathematics honors program, and we just had an inquiry from the parent of a 15 year old who has already completed most of the math courses for a standard ...
4
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3answers
870 views

How do you validate that two math expressions are equal?

Let's say you have a few expressions like the following: $$\begin{array}((x+17)^2 \\ x^2 + 34x + 289 \end{array} \\ 288 + \frac{x^2}{2} + \frac{x^2}{2} + 34x + 1 \\ [...] $$ You get the idea: ...
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2answers
1k views

History of Quadratic Formula

My wife is planning a lesson on the quadratic formula for high school students, who have previously learned how to complete the square. It would be nice to open the lesson with some historical ...
2
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6answers
7k views

Which Mathematical Analysis I Book or Textbook Is The Best?

I'm in search of a mathematical analysis text that covers at least the same material as Walter Rudin's Principles of ... but does so in much more detail, without relegating the important results to ...
2
votes
3answers
6k views

Sum of digits and product of digits is equal (3 digit number)

My child got a question in school (grade) that is: Find biggest and smallest 3 digits number, which has sum of it's digits equal to product of those digits. Help please since I cannot explain my ...
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1answer
1k views

Purpose of Inverse matrix

What use is the inverse matrix? I would not use it to solve linear systems but there must be some concrete or real life applications where it is used.
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2answers
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Etymology of the word “normal” (perpendicular)

While the word "normal" is one of the most overloaded mathematical terms, in linear algebra, it is usually associated with the notion of being perpendicular to something, as in "normal vector" or ...
8
votes
3answers
844 views

What is the probability that GCD of $(a,b)$ is $b$?

My question is quite simple. I have been googling a lot lately trying to find a solution to this: Given a sequence of n integers $[1,2,...,n]$. If we pick two numbers randomly from the set say, a and ...
8
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0answers
346 views

The difference between 10 and 9.99999 … (recurring) [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Does .99999… = 1? At supper today my daughter was discussing her maths (she's 13) - she had been studying putting decimal numbers into what she called standard ...
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3answers
8k views

How to justify small angle approximation for cosine

Everyone knows the picture that explains instantly the small angle approximation to the sine function (as defined by the parametrisation of the unit circle): "what's the length of that arc?" "See how ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Do you need real analysis to understand complex analysis?

I'm debating whether I should take a course, in complex analysis (using Bak as a text). I've already taken Munkres level topology and "very light" real analysis (proving the basic theorems about ...
3
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2answers
4k views

Linear Homogeneous Recurrence Relations and Inhomogenous Recurrence Relations

I'm having some difficulty understanding 'Linear Homogeneous Recurrence Relations' and 'Inhomogeneous Recurrence Relations', the notes that we've been given in our discrete mathematics class seem to ...
2
votes
14answers
790 views

Interesting piece of math for high school students? [closed]

I'm giving an hour long lecture to high school math students with a fairly high aptitude in math. I want to present something a little advanced for them (undergrad level) that they have to struggle ...
2
votes
1answer
152 views

“limit along a path” equivalent to usual definition of limit?

At the institution where I teach, regrettably, we do not teach students the real definition of the limit in our calculus classes. I am teaching a little complex analysis, and I would like to use the ...
1
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1answer
45 views

Applied Linear Algebra | Linear Dependent Matrix

Question: My response: Am I solving the above question correctly? Or am I on the wrong path? Thank you for your help.
280
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29answers
40k views

My sister absolutely refuses to learn math [closed]

My 13-year-old sister has a problem which, given the way math is currently taught, I doubt is anything but all too common. She has a low grade in her math course and only ever attempts to memorize ...
108
votes
44answers
13k views

What's your favorite proof accessible to a general audience? [closed]

What math statement with proof do you find most beautiful and elegant, where such is accessible to a general audience, meaning you could state, prove, and explain it to a general audience in ...
83
votes
22answers
11k views

The Best of Dover Books (a.k.a the best cheap mathematical texts)

Perhaps this is a repeat question -- let me know if it is -- but I am interested in knowing the best of Dover mathematics books. The reason is because Dover books are very cheap and most other books ...
86
votes
19answers
4k views

Good Physical Demonstrations of Abstract Mathematics

I like to use physical demonstrations when teaching mathematics (putting physics in the service of mathematics, for once, instead of the other way around), and it'd be great to get some more ideas to ...
68
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14answers
6k views

Should an undergrad accept that some things don't make sense, or study the foundation of mathematics to resolve this?

I'm a second year math student. And I've the following problem. When I prepare myself for an exam, I can distinguish two phases. First I'm mainly interested in whatever is necessary to pass the ...
46
votes
13answers
16k views

Interesting math-facts that are visually attractive

To give a talk to 17-18 years old (who have a knack for mathematics) about how interesting mathematics (and more specifically pure mathematics) can be, I wanted to use nice facts accompanied by nice ...
29
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8answers
3k views

Very *mathematical* general physics book

I am searching for a book to study physics. So far, I've been suggested Resnick, Halliday, Krane, Physics, but it doesn't seem to be very suited for a math major. Can you suggest some more ...
76
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22answers
7k views

Is math built on assumptions?

I just came across this statement when I was lecturing a student on math and strictly speaking I used: Assuming that the value of $x$ equals <something>, ... One of my students just rose ...
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20answers
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Good math bed-time stories for children?

What are some good references/books/articles from which to derive some good bed-time math stories to pique a child's interest in math? I am fascinated by math (used to hate it as a kid) and want my ...
69
votes
13answers
10k views

In calculus, which questions can the naive ask that the learned cannot answer?

Number theory is known to be a field in which many questions that can be understood by secondary-school pupils have defied the most formidable mathematicians' attempts to answer them. Calculus is not ...
34
votes
12answers
2k views

Resources for a curious beginner mathematician

I have a friend whose experience of math in school was horrible (each teacher, she says, either left or was fired the year after she had them). I've been teaching her about various things: cantor's ...
56
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25answers
7k views

Easy example why complex numbers are cool

I am looking for an example explainable to someone only knowing high school mathematics why complex numbers are necessary. The best example would be possible to explain rigourously and also be clearly ...
26
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5answers
5k views

Math GRE Subject Exam [closed]

I am studying for the GRE Mathematics subject exam [1]. I am looking for tips regarding how to more effectively study for it. Does anyone know of any good study materials or have any tips in general? ...
23
votes
6answers
625 views

Open source lecture notes and textbooks

This question is inspired by the popular "Best Sets of Lecture Notes and Articles". Indeed, I would like to collect a "big-list" of open source (that is, with $\LaTeX$ code available) high-quality ...
106
votes
17answers
5k views

How do you respond to “I was always bad at math”? [closed]

Here in the U.S., it is my experience that over 75% of adults I meet socially will volunteer that phrase or a variation upon learning that I am a mathematician. I find this frustrating, since almost ...
88
votes
23answers
7k views

Why is there no “remainder” in multiplication

With division, you can have a remainder (such as $5/2=2$ remainder $1$). Now my six year old son has asked me "Why is there no remainder with multiplication"? The obvious answer is "because it ...
95
votes
11answers
6k views

Is there a domain “larger” than (i.e., a supserset of) the complex number domain?

I've been teaching my 10yo son some (for me, anyway) pretty advanced mathematics recently and he stumped me with a question. The background is this. In the domain of natural numbers, addition and ...
66
votes
3answers
5k views

Getting Students to Not Fear Confusion

I'm a fifth year grad student, and I've taught several classes for freshmen and sophomores. This summer, as an "advanced" (whatever that means) grad student I got to teach an upper level class: Intro ...
60
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1answer
3k views

About Euclid's Elements and modern video games

Update (6/19/2014) $\;$ Just wanted to say that this idea that I posted more than a year ago, has now become reality at: http://euclidthegame.com/ 12.292 users have played it in 96 different ...
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8answers
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Elementary Papers at ArXiv

Inspired by this question, at MO i am asking this question. Can anyone list some elementary articles at ArXiv which can be understood by High-School/Undergrad Students. I am asking this because, i ...
18
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5answers
669 views

Big list of serious but fun “unusual” books

I would like to have some suggestions about serious (that is, with good mathematical content) but fun books that cover topics (or propose problems) in "recreational mathematics"; in any other field ...