Browsing category ninja maths

Ask Uncle Colin: Shouldn’t this be simple?

Dear Uncle Colin, I've got a funny square and I can't find $x$. Can you help? – Oughta Be Simple, Can't Unravel Resulting Equations Hi, OBSCURE, and thanks for your message! You're right, it ought to be simple… but it turns out not to be. It is simple enough to

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The Mathematical Ninja takes a square root

"So," said the Mathematical Ninja, "we meet again." "In fairness," said the student, "this is our regularly-scheduled appointment." The Mathematical Ninja was unable to deny this. Instead, it was time for a demand: "Tell me the square root of 22." "Gosh," said the student. "Between four-and-a-half and five, definitely. 4.7

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The Mathematical Ninja and Cosines

As the student was wont to do, he idly muttered "So, that's $\cos(10º)$…" The calculator, as calculators are wont to do when the Mathematical Ninja is around, suddenly went up in smoke. "0.985," with a heavy implication of 'you don't need a calculator for that'. As the student was wont

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A common problem: not reading carefully

I'm a big advocate of error logs: notebooks in which students analyse their mistakes. I recommend a three-column approach: in the first, write the question, in the second, what went wrong, and in the last, how to do it correctly. Oddly, that's the format for this post, too. The question

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The Mathematical Ninja and the Poisson Distribution

"What are the ch…" "About 11.7%," said the Mathematical Ninja. "Assuming $X$ is drawn from a Poisson distribution with a mean of 9 and we want the probability that $X=7$." "That's a fair assumption, sensei," pointed out the student, "given that that's what the sodding question says." A wiser student

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Ask Uncle Colin: Approximating an embedded exponential

Dear Uncle Colin, Help! My calculator is broken and I need to solve – or at least approximate – $0.1 = \frac{x}{e^x – 1}$! How would you do it? — Every $x$ Produces Outrageous Numbers, Exploring New Techniques Hi, ExPONENT, and thanks for your message! That’s a bit of a

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The Mathematical Ninja lets the student investigate… cube roots

"Sensei! I have a problem!" The Mathematical Ninja nodded. "Bring it on." "There's a challenge! Someone has picked a five-digit integer and cubed it to get 6,996,364,932,376. I know it ends with a six, and I could probably get the penultimate digit with a bit of work… I just wondered

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Announcing: Ninja|Alpha

After several months of high-intensity development, we’re very happy to announce the launch of Ninja|Alpha. Go ahead! Ask it anything you like.

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How the Mathematical Ninja approximates $\ln(5)$

"Isn't it somewhere around $\phi$?" asked the student, brightly. "That number sure crops up in a lot of places!" The Mathematical Ninja's eyes narrowed. "Like shells! And body proportions! And arrawk!" Hands dusted. The Mathematical Ninja stood back. "The Vitruvian student!" The student arrawked again as the circular machine he

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How the Mathematical Ninja approximates $\sin(55º)$

“$0.819$,” said the Mathematical Ninja, in as weary a voice as the student used to say “I suppose you’re going to tell me how.” The nunchaku looked a little rusty, and the axe was in need of a good sharpening. The throwing knives could have done with a clear, and

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