Questions tagged [algebra]

Algebra is the part of mathematics in which letters and other general symbols are used to represent numbers and quantities in formulae and equations.

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5
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4answers
190 views

Courses equivalent to College Algebra in other countries?

In USA, there is a course called College Algebra and a course description may look like the following: This course provides students an opportunity to gain algebraic knowledge needed in ...
4
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2answers
133 views

Is evaluating a Real Polynomial at a Complex Value a suitable task for Precalculus students?

In Korea, basically every teaching material for 10th grade math(about the level of precalculus) contains this kind of exercises in their first treatment of complex numbers: Evaluate $f(x)=4x^4-8x^3+...
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17answers
7k views

How shall we teach math online?

Many universities, including mine, are now requiring we teach our courses online because corona. How shall we do this? Let’s brainstorm here. Some challenges: My school provides limited online ...
3
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2answers
139 views

How to motivate my ten year old math student

I work as a private math tutor. I have a student, she is 10 years old. Her mother has asked me to provide assistance in preparation for the admission process to the eight-year high school. My ...
16
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4answers
291 views

Should we stop teaching “interchange $x$ and $y$” when finding the inverse function?

In one textbook I use for College Algebra, the author teaches that one should interchange $x$ and $y$ when looking for inverse functions. For example, the inverse function of $$y=2x+2$$ is $$y=0.5x-1.$...
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4answers
435 views

How should I convince a student who proved $1=-1$

One of my high school students who has ZERO knowledge on complex numbers and the modulus function has showed me the following algebra: $$(16)^{\frac{1}{2}}=(16)^{\frac{2}{4}}=((16)^2)^{\frac{1}{4}}=...
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3answers
216 views

Algebra/trig/precalculus review questions that elicit common student errors

This semester I have decided to give students a simple question or two at the beginning of every calculus class that will trap them into making the most common errors that we all know...e.g. the ...
10
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4answers
203 views

How to read chained equalities out loud?

I find that my community-college students are usually very hazy on the status and meaning of chained equality statements (or other relational statements). This seems like a really critical element of ...
2
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2answers
191 views

How should one approach the concept of “plus or minus”, such as in the numerator of the quadratic formula?

The numerator is structured like: $$(-b)\pm\sqrt{b^2- 4ac}.$$ Is it confusing or acceptable to distinguish between the following two things? An idiom; and What is or seems to be a compositionally ...
3
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5answers
341 views

Are degrees of polynomials illogically defined in elementary algebra, intermediate algebra and college algebra courses?

In most of books on elementary algebra, intermediate algebra and college algebra, the degree of the non-zero polynomial $$f(x)=a_nx^n+\cdots a_1x+a_0$$ with $a_n\neq 0$ is defined to be $n$. But I ...
2
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3answers
212 views

Why not write “or” inequalities as $a>x>b$? [closed]

This seems like a stupid question . I just don’t understand why the algebra textbooks I see don’t really address this with students. I boy that I am tutoring brought it up and I was slightly ...
6
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1answer
140 views

Symmetry in polar functions - how to explain

In the precalculus curriculum I am teaching (using Stewart's book Precalculus: Mathematics for Calculus, 7th ed.), we do a bit of polar graphing, which includes discussion of symmetry on polar graphs. ...
4
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3answers
571 views

“Table” method for expanding brackets vs “each term in the first bracket gets multiplied by each term in the second bracket”

Hi I've just discovered mathseducators stackexchange. As a maths tutor in the UK, I am irritated that some of my students - particularly GCSE and sometimes below - use the table method for expanding ...
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2answers
73 views

Examples for environmental topics in the context of terms or linear inequalities

I want to emphasize the aspect of environmental education in my math class. Now I'm reasoning whether to do that with linear inequalities or terms with two variables - these are our next topics. The ...
9
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5answers
455 views

Does anyone use the cubic formula these days?

I am writing a story for young people about the history of the development of the cubic formula and complex numbers, partly because it has so much drama and partly because it's amusing that complex ...
2
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2answers
300 views

High school maths textbook for talented students

I am looking for a math textbook. I'm 15 and I'd like to complete algebra 2 geometry and perhaps something about probability/ number theory or trigonometry would be nice too. Later I wanna do ...
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12answers
3k views

A PEMDAS issue request for explanation

This question made the rounds recently - $8÷2(2+2)=?$ Now, I glanced at this, answered "1" and then saw the full article printed in the New York Times, The Math Equation That Tried to Stump the ...
8
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1answer
209 views

When (and why) did geometric means of more than two numbers exit the secondary curriculum?

In contemporary US secondary mathematics textbooks, geometric means occasionally make a brief appearance. For example: In Geometry, students learn that when an altitude is dropped to the hypotenuse ...
8
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5answers
435 views

Different Kinds of Variables

Students sometimes ask whether the $x$ in the expression $$2x$$ the same kind of thing as the $x$ in the equation $$2x = 4.$$ In the expression $2x, \;x$ can be any real value. However, in the ...
6
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4answers
755 views

Real-life exceptions to PEMDAS?

What are some real-life exceptions to the PEMDAS rule? I am looking for examples from "real" mathematical language --- conventions that are held in modern mathematics practice, such as those appearing ...
2
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1answer
111 views

Explicit Cross Method

When factoring quadratic expressions $ax^2+bx+c$ it is common to the guess and check factors (AKA the cross method). This would involve factoring $a$ and $c$ and considering particular combinations ...
3
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3answers
234 views

Why in the FOIL Method the terms are taken with their signs?

That was the most boring title I could choose but in all honesty, it is what the question is. Here is a reminder of the FOIL method that is used for multiplying two binomials. For example, to multiply ...
7
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3answers
247 views

Complex numbers and encourage justification

In remedial algebra, we learn that the graph of $y=(\sqrt x)^2$ is only in the first quadrant. We know this is the correct graph for the equation. This is because we know $y=x$ and $x \ge 0$. However,...
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1answer
207 views

Integrated math curriculum in different countries

One of the selling points of re-hashed American 1990s high school math programs is that they are "integrated", that is, combine algebra, geometry, statistics, trigonometry just like the European ...
3
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3answers
197 views

How to explain to pupils that “$\frac n{100}$ OF $a$” is equivalent to “$a$ TIMES $\frac{n}{100}$”?

How to explain to pupils that "$\frac n{100}$ OF $a$" is equivalent to "$\frac{n}{100}\times a$"? There is some difficulty in explaining that the first sentence, containing "OF" (which could suggest ...
3
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1answer
104 views

Classical references on equation solving

If I'm not in error, old style algebra books ( before 1945) concentrated on equation solving, and modern ones concentrate more on functions and their graphs ( as a preparation to calculus). Are there ...
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5answers
3k views

Where do students learn to solve polynomial equations these days?

When I was a math undergraduate 30 years ago in India, we were taught what was then called "classical algebra" (as opposed to abstract algebra), and we were taught among other things solving ...
2
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1answer
123 views

Could this visual explanation of horizontal shift be helpful ? …( if not beautiful…)

With the image below I try to explain in which way substituting (x-a) ( with a> 0) for x in the expression defining a function results in a shift to the right, although " intuition" tells us it ...
5
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0answers
278 views

What books properly address the properties of $a^b$?

Many students think $\sqrt{a} \sqrt{b}=\sqrt{a\ b}$ $\sqrt{a^2}=a$ $\frac{1}{\sqrt{a}}=\sqrt{\frac{1}{a}}$ but none of the above are true when (a) and (b) are negative. To avoid such problems, ...
3
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0answers
175 views

According to Nathan Jacobson, what is Intermediate Algebra and Advanced Algebra?

Nathan Jacobson's Basic Algebra I, II covers many topics in Algebra that is probably even beyond many pure mathematics full professor's scope of knowledge, unless the professor is specialised in ...
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3answers
2k views

Are students majoring in pure mathematics expected to know classical results in mathematics very well by their graduation?

For example, I am confident that very few students majoring in pure mathematics can write a complete proof to the Abel–Ruffini theorem (there is no algebraic solution to general polynomial equations ...
6
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1answer
300 views

“Indicated Arithmetic” or “Delayed Evaluation”

In the recent past, I've come across a pedagogical strategy for teaching/learning algebra that is sometimes called "Indicated Arithmetic" or "Delayed Evaluation". However, I've been unable to find any ...
5
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0answers
221 views

Teaching methods to make a weak student good at math? (particularly student from social science background)

I am currently teaching a high-school student, 1st grade Social Science. He is weak in mathematics. My initial strategy was to explain basic concept but with high repetitions, so that he can have a ...
19
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2answers
2k views

Algebra 2 textbooks that incorrectly claim that all solutions of polynomial equations can be found

Over the years I have occasionally encountered a number of Algebra 2 textbooks that make an incorrect (or at very least extremely misleading) claim along the lines that "all solutions of a polynomial ...
4
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4answers
417 views

Is This Trick Helpful?

I am no professional educator; I am a student myself! But apparently I come up with useful tricks that help my younger brother do better in maths. I just want to hear your feedback, is all. My ...
2
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3answers
379 views

Harnessing misuse of equals sign

Students often misuse the equals sign to indicate "I've done this operation" rather than the proper use indicating numerical equivalence. Eg. Tax is paid using the rule: \$3 572 plus 32.5c per \$1 ...
9
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5answers
798 views

Motivation for polynomial long division

In the U.S. students in grades $\{9,10,11\}$ often learn long division of two polynomials, e.g.: $$ \frac{x^4 + 6x^2 + 2}{x^2 + 5} = x^2 + 1 - \frac{3}{x^2 + 5} \;. $$ I believe it is fair to say that ...
2
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3answers
730 views

Good (natural) motivational examples for quadratic equations

I am looking for good motivational examples of how quadratic equations can naturally arise in real life for someone starting high school. The high school book my child is using just jumps into ...
9
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2answers
5k views

Good real-life examples of transformations of function graphs

I am a graduate student teaching college algebra at a larger state school, and currently I'm covering transformations of graphs of function, i.e.: Given the graph of a function $y =f(x)$, what do ...
12
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2answers
391 views

Teaching logic through “high school algebra”?

I am going to be teaching a discrete math class in the fall. One of the major goals of the course is a solid understanding of the basics of logic: the precise meanings of "and", "or", "not", "implies"...
4
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2answers
208 views

Why bother completing the square to find the minimum/maximum of a quadratic function?

Given a question like Find the coordinates of the minimum point on the curve $y=3x^2+2x+9$. students are often taught to solve this by completing the square. The class I am currently teaching ...
4
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4answers
184 views

Method of Showing Algebraic Work

I have seen two different methods of showing algebraic work when solving equations. I show both of them below for the same simple math problem: \begin{alignat}{8} x+3 &\;=&\; 5 \qquad&&...
6
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3answers
296 views

How to resolve the new definition of subtraction and division seen in college algebra?

Here's the foundational thing that irritates me the most when teaching college algebra. Up through the secondary level, I think that instructors and students are trained to understand subtraction and ...
5
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2answers
376 views

How to Teach Middle School Students to Read Square Roots?

This exact quote from my standard American Algebra 1 textbook states when first introducing rational square roots: $\sqrt{49} = 7$ is read "The positive square root of $49$ equals $7$." $-\...
3
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6answers
294 views

Multidisciplinary problem

I am looking for ideas for an activity for high school students, which involves plane geometry and another field, such as algebra, series, etc... For example, in junior high there is a nice activity ...
10
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2answers
304 views

implication vs equivalence when solving equations

I remember we were taught in high school (Eastern Europe) the difference between implication ($\Rightarrow$) and equivalence ($\Leftrightarrow$) and were instructed, when solving equations to be ...
5
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2answers
261 views

How to solve $a x = b$?

I'm teaching algebra to lower ability grade 11 students. I've tried to give them fair grounding in algebraic manipulation. I'm trying to explain how to solve a linear equation like $2 x +1 =3$ (or $- ...
10
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4answers
236 views

Algebra best practices for students

One thing I notice frequently is that students don't have 'best practices' for doing algebra. Let me given an example: If students are trying to differentiate, say, $f(x) = (x^2 + x)^2$, they will ...
8
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4answers
420 views

Shifting function graphs: writing vertical offset on the y-side?

Students tend to mix up signs when shifting function graphs around: consider $y=x^2$. To shift it one unit upwards ("increasing $y$"), you write $y=x^2+1$, to shift it to the right ("increasing $x$"), ...
7
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3answers
182 views

Resources on solving systems of polynomial equations in multivariable calculus setting

Whenever I teach multivariable calculus I find students really struggle with both finding critical points and the method of Lagrange multipliers. I think that the reason is the same: solving systems ...