Questions tagged [notation]

For questions about good use of notation, comparison of specific notation, motivation of notation.

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Correct notation of a Sample space

From the very beginning I have used the notation $S = \{ H , T \}$ as the Sample space for tossing a coin once and $S = \{ HH , HT , TH , TT \}$ in the case of tossing a coin twice.I have several ...
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Why is it written $\tan^{-1}$?

I was showing my neighbour's daughter how to do simple sine, cosine and tangent questions and their inverses. She could do the questions fine but she asked me why the calculator button for inverse tan ...
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Mnemonics for memorizing the difference between a closed interval and an open interval

Here are some suggestions for memorizing the difference between an open interval and a closed interval. [a,b]={x|a<=x<=b} (a,b)={x|a<x<b} The first thing I would notice is that the bracket ...
279 views

Order of operations pemdas

Why was the order of operations established in mathematics with multiplication taking precedence over addition, as dictated by the PEMDAS rule? What historical or practical factors influenced this ...
1k views

Is there a standard convention for interpreting ambiguous absolute value expressions?

Consider the expression $$|x + 2|x + 3|x + 4|.$$ One way to interpret this is that there are two products being added together: $$|x+2|x \hspace{1cm} + \hspace{1cm} 3|x+4|$$ But you could also ...
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Is there a resource for learning to read mathematical notation/equations/formulae?

Ideally, I am looking for an online resource. But a book or any other would help already. Background: I am a senior teaching assistant in the field of business and statistics. Most of my students have ...
2k views

Explaining Sigma-Notation

I attempted to introduce the summation notation $\Sigma$ to my students. The notation was unfamiliar to the students beforehand. I worked through many examples with them, but for most of them, working ...
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Correcting how a student writes symbols

One of my college students writes the Greek letter $\pi$ as a script n with a bar over it, like $\bar{n}$. [There is actual space between the letter and the bar.] I have never seen this before, and ...
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Is there a preferred way to format a negative exponent?

Say there's an exam question whose answer is $x$ to the power of negative one. Two ways of writing this are $x^{-1}$ and $\frac{1}{x}$. I know that questions will sometimes request an answer without ...
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Activities that encourage students to create or evaluate mathematical notations

I'm looking for references about activities that encourage elementary school students to create or evaluate mathematical notations. do you know any?
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Simple examples of how a good notation or diagram can help to solve math problems

I am looking for simple examples of situations where a good notation/diagram was fundamental for solving an elementary problem in mathematics (I am looking for examples accessible to a basic school ...
6k views

Parentheses around negative numbers

We teach students that a notation like $$17 - -59$$ is not acceptable or at least not good. Instead we want them to write $$17-(-59)$$ The main reason seems to be that it's more readable if you ...
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What implication arrows, if any, should I require in teaching?

Q: Solve $x+5=0$. A: $x+5=0\implies x=-5$. This answer would be given full marks. Isn’t it better to tell students to use $\equiv$ or $\iff$? Because that is what lets them say $-5$ is a solution to ...
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Do Greek students use Greek letters to denote angles?

In western schools is a tradition to use Greek letters to denote angles. I wonder what about Greek schools do they also use Greek letters to denote angles or do they prefer other kind of alphabet to ...
1k views

How to teach using brackets in sums?

How one should teach using brackets in summation? For example, why is it correct to write $\sum_i a_ib_i$ but $\sum_i a_i+b_i$ should be written as $\sum_i (a_i+b_i)$ But $\sum_i\frac{a_i+b_i}{2}$ is, ...
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Which are the most used Greek letters in math textbooks?

I am looking for a list of the most frequent Greek letters used in high school and college textbooks or some other corpora. I've realized my students don't know Greek letters and I would like to teach ...
418 views

Should one include the unit in the variable? E.g. should one write $x^\circ = 30^\circ$ or $x = 30^\circ$?

I sometimes come across equations like $x^\circ = 180^\circ - \frac{360^\circ}{n}$ where I would write $x = 180^\circ - \frac{360^\circ}{n}$, or like $3 \text{ cm} + x \text{ cm} = 5 \text{ cm}$ where ...
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How to introduce the use of Greek letters in high school?

I am looking for any hints or experience reports or materials/potential difficulties about how to introduce the use of Greek letters in high school Math/Physics.
127 views

What should I do when I, as a math tutor, use incorrect verbal notation?

I do freelance tutoring; the math-related ones are mostly 1-2 hour one-on-one sessions for high school and college students taking calculus classes. Often I find myself scrambling for words - I don't ...
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Lowercase vs. uppercase letters for matrix entries

For a matrix $A$ in, say for instance, $\mathbb{R}^{m \times n}$, there are at least two different conventions to denote its entry at position $(j,k)$: Denote the entry as $a_{jk}$. Denote the entry ...
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References for mathematical notation for foreign students in the U.S

I teach quite a few foreign students at a U.S. university. Frequently students are placed in our most remedial math class due to not having placement scores and failing to test out of the course. I ...
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Why do we use functional composition in the order we do?

Function composition means, roughly, taking the output of a function and applying it to the input of another function. If we define an object C to represent this operation, we could say $C(f,g) = f∘g$ ...
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Fear of notation and hazily-appeared writing in Mathematics

I am looking for literature related to fear of notation in mathematics. It is even heard that the font size and font type make a reader reluctant to study mathematical literature, often lecture notes,...
2k views

The use of "$\therefore$" and "$\because$"

In schools, many students learn the usage of "$\therefore$" and "$\because$" in proofs. Such three-dot notation are popular in many high-school books and exams, but are almost ...
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