Posted in algebra, circles, quadratics

-or- matching coefficients for fun and profit I bluffed my way through completing the square at A-level. I guessed, dropped minus signs, and dropped marks all the way. It was only once I started teaching it that I figured out completing the square. Let me share it with you. Completing

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Posted in ninja maths

Difficulty: ** Impressiveness: **** If you do A-level maths, you do an awful lot of integration. You integrate polynomials, trig functions, partial fractions, exponentials, parametric curves, products of these... and get nice analytical answers. Here, let me provoke controversy: Unless you're going to be a pure mathematician or a maths

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Posted in free-for-all friday

It's the Easter break, time to make good on all those promises to put the work in before the exams! How can I help you this week? What's bothering you? Where are you stuck? Let me know in the comments and I'll get back to you as soon as I

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Posted in revision

There's a dark cloud looming. It's already April and the AS and A2 maths exams are unusually early this year. So, the question is, what can you do to revise effectively without driving yourself crazy? Here are my top three tips for getting on top of the material rather than

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Posted in ninja maths

Difficulty: (simple version) *** (advanced version) ***** Impressiveness: ***** Accuracy: *** If you're a statistician, you quite often end up working out powers of numbers just a little less than 1. What's the probability of rolling a pair of dice ten times and never getting a double six? It's $\left(\frac{35}{36}\right)^{10}$.

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Posted in free-for-all friday

It's that time of the week again! What's been on your mind? What's giving you a headache? As always, drop your questions in the comments box and I'll get back to you as swiftly as I can!

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Posted in quotes

We all agree that your theory is crazy, but is it crazy enough? - Niels Bohr

Read More →A conjecture both deep and profound Needs a proof that the circle is round. In a paper by Erdős Written in Kurdish A counter-example is found. One of my favourite questions to ask students is "what's a circle?" because I get to play "so that means this is a circle!"

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Posted in ninja maths

Some of the secrets of the mathematical ninja are pretty pointless, when you come down to it: after all, we have machines for most of these things. The divisibility tricks are useful (as far as I can see) only in a very specific circumstance: when you're deciding whether to cancel

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