Questions tagged [functions]

For questions about the teaching of the function concept, function properties, and various types of functions.

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How to help new students accept function notation

I am struggling to help some of my new precalculus students accept function notation -- something new to them this term. I am looking for strategies to help them adopt this new notation. Their main ...
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Why is the concept of injective functions difficult for my students?

I was aware that students find the definition of function too abstract and thus find it difficult. However, I thought, once you understand functions, the concept of injective and surjective functions ...
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Is this just a mistake or a more serious misconception?

One of my main research areas is algebraic thinking at different levels. Yet, from time to time, I observe something that I cannot relate to anything else that I know. This is the story of one of ...
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Why is there a disconnect in the usage of "domain" between high school and higher mathematics, and where does it come from?

In high school (in the US, at least), it is common to define the domain of a function as the set of real numbers for which the function is well-defined and returns a real result. Then students are ...
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Natural occurrences of a to the (b to the c)?

Are there some natural contexts in which a double exponential occurs, $x$ to the ($y$ to the $z$): $$x ^ {(y ^ z)} \;, \textrm{or} \;, a ^ {(b ^ c)} \; \textrm{?}$$ Of course one can contrive many ...
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"Real world" examples of implicit functions

When teaching implicit differentiation in freshman calculus I lack good examples which might help students relate the theory to applications in other sciences. So I'm looking for (relatively simple) ...
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What is a good way to explain the slightly different kinds of continuity?

What is a good way to explain the slightly different kinds of continuity to students? I have in mind these kinds of continuity: A function is continuous at a point. (This also has two sub-kinds: ...
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How to explain the range to students?

I mostly tutor students ranging from beginning algebra to calculus level. I think the explaining the range as "the set of all possible outputs" would not really cut it for someone struggling with math ...
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Examples of when $\tan(x) = \frac{\sin(x)}{\cos(x)}$ is useful

I'm making a video right now about the unit circle definitions of the basic trig functions. I've done sine and cosine, and am now talking about the tangent function. As most of you know, it can be ...
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Does the way we often introduce the concept of a function make sense?

Here are some ideas and a few questions I've been pondering lately related to the teaching of functions in college algebra and precalculus: Based on my experience, the teaching of functions usually ...
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What is the name of this discipline in mathematics education?

I am struggling with my students who can think only in concrete terms, they can compute with concrete numbers but are not able to think in terms of e.g. functions on natural numbers and come up with ...
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What are some common ways students get confused about finding an inverse of a function?

What are some common ways students get confused about finding an inverse of a function? One I can think of is conflating multiplicative inverses of rational numbers with functional inverses. e.g. ...
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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 $x$"), ...
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Write $y=\sqrt{3+x}$ as the composite of two functions

For the question "Write $y=\sqrt{3+x}$ as the composite of two functions", what if a student gives the answer $f(x)=\sqrt{3+x}$ and $g(x)=x$? This answer would be technically correct but it ...
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