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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (3)

13
votes
3answers
1k views

I want to learn math!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Filip and I am going to 10th grade now. My school deals with electrotechnics and computers (programming, hardware etc.) I was always good at math but not quite ...
13
votes
4answers
5k views

Self-Paced Graduate Math Courses for Independent Study

Does anyone know of any graduate math courses that are self-paced, for independent study? I am a high school math teacher at a charter school in Texas. While I am quite happy with where I am right ...
13
votes
1answer
987 views

Research in differential geometry

I am an 3rd year undergrad interested in mathematics and theoretical physics. I have been reading some classical differential geometry books and I want to pursue this subject further. I have three ...
13
votes
1answer
995 views

What is the expected mathematical repertoire of a Ph.D. program applicant?

I am an undergraduate (currently a sophomore) studying to prepare for applying to a Ph.D. program in mathematics. I have thus far structured my course selection upon the advice of a friend I met ...
13
votes
2answers
442 views

Is ripping off exercises plagiarism? [closed]

Just a quick question. I teach some undergraduate mathematics. I like to produce notes that contain exercises. Sometimes I make my own exercises, sometimes I take exercises from various sources and ...
13
votes
1answer
420 views

Developing research experience in mathematics

I am not sure whether this is the right forum for this question, so it might be migrated somewhere else; but, it is, I think, certainly germane to the wider idea of pursuing interesting questions and ...
13
votes
1answer
327 views

How to fill my mathematical gaps?

To do the story short, I became interested in mathematics in a serious way like two years ago, I'm currently in graduate school, but the problem is that my mathematical background is not as good as ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

How can I convince my math teacher?

Ok, so I got an answer wrong on my exam because my teacher says that the function $f(x)=\frac{(x+2)x}{x+2}=x$ but I insist that it isn't defined for x=-2. If it was then $\frac{x}{x}=1$ for all reals ...
12
votes
4answers
4k views

Is “locally linear” an appropriate description of a differentiable function?

In this answer on meta, Pete L. Clark said: I think the question concerns the idea that a differentiable curve becomes more and more like a straight line segment the closer one zooms in on its ...
12
votes
5answers
262 views

Issues with text problems

When I tutor, I often see people who kind of know the stuff they cover in school at the moment and succeed at straight problems like: Find the derivative of $f(x) = \frac 12 x^2$ But when it ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Motivation behind the definition of GCD and LCM

According to me, I can find the GCD of two integers (say $a$ and $b$) by finding all the common factors of them, and then finding the maximum of all these common factors. This also justifies the ...
12
votes
5answers
695 views

Can the order of learning be changed?

I have been advised by many people to learn from scratch. So I decided to learn it. But I have the following questions in my mind. Can we skip "the Trinity" and learn something else directly? ("the ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

Self studying math, how can I learn the most?

I am currently studying Pre-Calculus on my own. I have a few texts I am working with but feel like I could learning a lot more than I am. When people typically ask these kind of questions the common ...
12
votes
6answers
271 views

Sources for mathematics outside the mathematics world

In this question I would like to ask you about material showing the uses (or occurrences) of mathematics in the everyday world. The aim is to encourage with it a group of young undergraduate ...
12
votes
6answers
1k views

Am I just bad at math? [closed]

I currently pursuing a degree in computer science. When I started back 4 years ago, I took a test to see how I would place into certain subjects. My math scores were absolutely horrible. I started ...
12
votes
4answers
307 views

Communicating mathematics

As a TA, my ratings have been fairly mediocre. There's nothing to suggest I'm a problem, but I have room to improve. What's more disturbing to me is that I even struggle to communicate math with ...
12
votes
3answers
556 views

Elementary Geometry Nomenclature: why so bad?

A long-ish wall of text, and I apologize. Some background: when I was a first-year university student, my chemistry professor was lecturing and was trying to find the word to describe a shape. A ...
12
votes
5answers
272 views

Is $1 : 7 = 1 / 8$ or is it $1/7$?

In a certain (non-mathematical) Stack Exchange, when I wrote $n : m = n / m$ where $n$ and $m$ are positive integers, one of the moderators said "No! $n : m$ is usually the notation for "$n$ parts in ...
12
votes
5answers
454 views

Algebraic topology in high school?

This winter I am planning on teaching a small seminar (20 lectures 45 minutes each) for high school students. I was was given the freedom to choose the topic of the seminar, but it is supposed to be ...
12
votes
5answers
240 views

Scholarly work on the beauty of math

When reading mathematical books written for a general audience, or even searching questions on this site, the adjective beautiful is often used to describe mathematics. My question is whether there ...
12
votes
3answers
292 views

Natural uses for the co-product of sets?

I had come across countless uses of the (Cartesian) product of sets long before I first ever met the concept of a "co-product"1 of sets. In fact, anyone who has learned basic analytic geometry in ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What should a math graduate know? [closed]

There are a lot of undergraduate courses out there and most of them agree on certain things, with regard to the subjects covered. Courses that include mathematics (engineering, physics, etc) are ...
12
votes
3answers
348 views

Textbooks, lecture notes, and articles from arXiv for undergraduate students

I have found some interesting textbooks and articles on arXiv, such as the following one, that are accessible to an undergraduate student: Course of linear algebra and multidimensional geometry, ...
12
votes
1answer
301 views

Algebraic structures associated to flexagons?

Flexagons strike me as objects that would admit investigation in a first course in modern algebra. I'm surprised to be unable to find a reference discussing flexagons using modern algebra language. ...
12
votes
2answers
771 views

Is Mathematics graduation important for a Computer Scientist?

I know this might be a personal problem, but I often find some friends in the same problem as me so I think this might be helpful to them after all. I am going to graduate in Computer Science in ...
12
votes
1answer
359 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
884 views

Teaching engineers mathematical thinking skills

In my experience, many introductory engineering mathematics textbooks these days tend to skip proofs and discuss logic only in the context of digital electronics. On the other hand, I can imagine that ...
12
votes
1answer
233 views

Studies on lack of mathematical education

I am looking for studies which compare students who did not receive mathematical education beyond basic mthematics and those that learned maths upto introductory calculus, with the assumption that ...
11
votes
11answers
2k views

Good examples for mathemathical problems/statements that are easely solvable/provable in one theory and hard to solve/prove in another

Let $P$ be a mathematical statement or a mathematical problem. I am looking for a couple of nice examples for $P$ that satisfy the following criteria: Given two (or more) mathematical points of view ...
11
votes
6answers
287 views

Can one show a beginning student how to use the $p$-adics to solve a problem?

I recently had a discussion about how to teach $p$-adic numbers to high school students. One person mentioned that they found it difficult to get used to $p$-adics because no one told them why the ...
11
votes
4answers
854 views

Best way of introducing determinants in a linear algebra course

What is the best way of introducing determinants in a linear algebra course? I want to give real life examples of where the determinant is applied. It should have a real impact.
11
votes
7answers
11k views

practical uses of matrix multiplication

The use of matrix multiplication is usually given with graphics initially (scalings, translations, rotations, etc). Then there are more in-depth examples such as counting the number of walks between ...
11
votes
3answers
851 views

Infinite Series: Fibonacci/ $2^n$

I presented the following problem to some of my students recently (from Senior Mathematical Challenge- edited by Gardiner) In the Fibonacci sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55... each term ...
11
votes
7answers
3k views

What should the high school math curriculum consist of?

"Life is open book." With the advent of widely accessible, inexpensive (or even free) computational tools and Computer Algebra Systems (TI-89, Wolfram|Alpha, etc.), much of what traditionally ...
11
votes
3answers
664 views

Very elementary proof of that Euler's totient function is multiplicative

Well, I know two or three proofs of this fact $$\gcd(m,n)=1\implies \varphi(mn)=\varphi(m)\varphi(n)$$ where $\varphi$ is the totient function. My problem is this: I'd like to explain this to some ...
11
votes
4answers
395 views

A Book of Neat Theorems for Laymen

I'm looking for reading assignment ideas for my students. I'd like them to read up on results in mathematics in layman's terms. For example, the Monty Hall problem, or Borsuk Ulam as the "Ham ...
11
votes
9answers
993 views

Sources of problems for teaching/tutoring young mathematicians

I am tutoring several talented students, middle school level and early high school level, in mathematics. I am always looking for new sources from which to draw questions. Can anyone recommend books, ...
11
votes
3answers
899 views

Why study metric spaces?

Most universities have a 3rd year undergraduate analysis course in which metric spaces are studied in depth (compactness, completeness, connectedness, etc...). However, in practice it seems that most ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

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 ...
11
votes
2answers
421 views

Explaining why we can't “find” an antiderivative of $f(t) = e^{t^2}$.

We can't find $$ \int e^{t^2} \; dt $$ using basic tools from a calculus class. That is, we can't express an antiderivative of $f(t) = e^{t^2}$ using the basic operations. We can of course just ...
11
votes
3answers
471 views

Popular general-interest math courses

I'm hoping the userbase here doesn't mind if I do a little crowd-sourcing. I'm curious to find out about popular general-interest mathematics or statistics classes that are offered universities that ...
11
votes
2answers
606 views

What's an induction problem that will be hard to answer with “backwards reasoning?”

I'm currently the teaching assistant for a course that serves as an introduction to rigorous proofs, and I've noticed some of my students have a tendency to try and use a sort of "backwards reasoning" ...
11
votes
2answers
520 views

How to introduce type theory to newcomer

I want to introduce (dependent) type theory to some friends having background in mathematical logic and set theory. To make this introduction easy I would like to give an informal presentation that ...
11
votes
3answers
160 views

Applications of functions of the form $f(x)^{g(x)}$

Early on in my calculus education, I learned how to take the derivative of $x^x$ by re-writing it in the form $e^{x\ln x}$. More generally, this technique is helpful in finding the derivative of ...
11
votes
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
301 views

Importance of Exercises in Mathematics for Self-Studying

I am a high school student wanting to major in Mathematics in the future. I started to like Mathematics recently, starting a year ago and I watched some interesting math videos on YouTube for fun (ex: ...
11
votes
3answers
142 views

Can you recommend a book to learn to teach math to a child?

I am looking for a book which contains some ideas on introducing a child to mathematics. I am not particularly looking for a textbook to be used as part of the teaching (though feel free to mention ...
11
votes
1answer
259 views

A question on the remainders of integer division

This is a question on the remainders of integer division from my student. Notations. Let $p$ be a positive odd prime integer. We write $r_{i,j}$ for the remainder of $i \times j \div p$. Now for an ...
11
votes
1answer
158 views

Has the age at which we teach Mathematics changed over the last two centuries?

My experience of learning Advanced Trigonometry and Calculus is that it was done to 17 and 18 year olds (School Curriculum in Australia). I assumed that it was similar in the UK, US and Europe. In ...
11
votes
1answer
351 views

How often should math students take day breaks and longer breaks or vacations? Any research?

John Edensor Littlewood wrote in page 197 of Littlewood's Miscellany "For a week without teaching duties - and here I think I am preaching to the converted - I believe in on afternoon and the ...