June, 2013

Book review: Mathematics: A Novel

Mathematics: A Novel by Jacques Roubaud has a lot in common with my degree. It seemed to go on forever without any particular point, was incomprehensible in large chunks, and ended with a nagging sensation that it ought to have been first class. Oh, and it was a cross between

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Calculator on order: basic maths and orders of magnitude

It’s a sunny Saturday1, and two maths items have caught my eye. Firstly, a bit of a cock-up on the sums front from Andover Tesco (via ): Is Andover @uktesco onto the next best thing to gold? Blueberries! at £8000/kg @whichconvo @moneysavingexp E.Privett twitter.com/ReevesHall/sta… — Andrew Reeves-Hall (@ReevesHall) June 7,

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Silly Questions Amnesty

The Silly Questions Amnesty is going on hiatus for the summer. You can still leave comments here if there’s anything you’d like me to answer – depending on how the Mathematical Ninja’s holidays pan out, SQA might be back in September. We’ll see!

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Centres of rotation

Ever since I’ve been teaching GCSE maths, I’ve struggled to explain one topic more than any other: how to find a centre of rotation. There are several ways students approach this problem. There’s the “I dunno” way, sometimes disguised as “I dunno where to start.” This is the kind of

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The Mathematical Ninja’s C4 Paper

“I stayed in ALL DAY waiting for that delivery of exam papers in Amsterdam,” said the Mathematical Ninja. “I could have been out pillaging, but no, sodding Yodel told me the package was out for delivery and it was only when I called them up for the eighth time they

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Silly Questions Amnesty

Getting to the end of exams, now. Any last-minute silly questions?

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The EdExcel C3 debacle: initial thoughts

These are my barely-edited, initial thoughts on today’s controversial EdExcel Core 3 paper. Nothing is meant as an attack on anyone – except, of course, for Mr Gove, who must be used to it by now. UPDATED June 14: The legendary Arsey at TSR has worked solutions for the paper

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Maths Police Investigates: The Case of The Clotted Cream Formula

“Fancy a Bob Marley doughnut?” asked Constable Gale. I sighed. “And that’s a doughnut…” “Wi’ jam in.” It’s a delicate line to draw, with Gale’s jokes: laugh too little, and you won’t get a doughnut. Laugh too much and he’ll tell you another one. “Speaking of jam,” I said, “this

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C4 Integration Quiz (tough stuff)

Here’s a quick multiple-choice quiz about the tough stuff in C4 integration. Ready?1 Question 1: squared trig functions What method do you use to calculate $\int \sin^2(x) dx$? (Give me all four answers!) a) Parts ($u = \sin(x),~v’=\sin(x)$) b) Trig substitution ($u=\cos(2x)$) c) Split-angle formula ($\sin(A)\sin(B) = d) Parts ($u

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