It mentions the use of calculators on mobile phones etc, but I don’t allow their use in maths classes because they give the wrong answer (try on them or on the Windows standard calculator and you’ll see what I mean).
The new A level syllabuses don’t distinguish between scientific and graphical calculators, but both are banned from the first Pure Maths module. It will be fascinating to see how students cope with this.
My Norwegian students all have graphical calculators (mainly Casio which I find difficult to use compared with Texas, though I like Casio’s scientific calculators) and the only way they are able to solve quadratic equations is to use the calculator, even if the quadratic factorises easily.
Other students, being students, don’t always bring calculators even when they need them. So when they have to solve I am very tempted to give them old-fashioned four-figure tables (which you can still buy!) but instead I give them an old scientific calculator. On those, to find , you have to type which so flummoxes them that they don’t forget to bring their own calculator again
For those who just need to work out a problem there are also online resources. One well-known one is Integrator, which as its name suggests, will give indefinite integrals. It is important though to use the correct syntax required by Mathematica which powers the site, otherwise Integrator tells you instead of the correct .
However, I have just come across QuickMath which, although it is also powered by Mathematica, allows a more friendly input using cos(3x) rather than Cos[3x]
The site says it will do
QuickMath says it has been going in various forms since 1998. How come I haven’t seen it before? It is certainly worth investigating and it will be interesting to hear how users get on with it. Are there similar sites out there?
Heard on BBC Radio 4 news last night:
- If Wales hadn’t beaten Ireland in the rugby match then it’s mathematically possible that France could have won the Grand Slam
This use of the phrase mathematically possible to mean a small probability is not uncommon, particularly in sport. And it’s not confined to the UK as Mathematically Possible shows. It would be interesting to find out how this phrase came to have this strange meaning.
The article mentions a LambertW poster you can find here.
It’s not often that mathematics gets onto the front page of a national newspaper but today the discovery of the latest prime has pride of place on the front page of the Guardian together with a colourful picture of some of the digits of this prime number. You can see the front page here (the story is the middle column) and read the story itself here.
Full details are at The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS)