While I'm quite steadfastly refusing to be swept along with either Olympics fever or anti-games grumbling, I stumbled across the Wikipedia page for the decathlon in a moment of nostalgia for my 1980s childhood tapping the keys of the ZX Spectrum - a system that was kind of like an

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Posted in calculus, integration

When you learn how to integrate by parts, you're probably told that a good rule of thumb is that if you have a power of $x$, that's going to be the thing you differentiate. That's a pretty good heuristic, but there are two places it breaks down: one, if you're

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Posted in free-for-all friday

Frankly, the first free-for-all-Friday of February! Fandabbydozy. You know the drill: whatever questions you've got about any part of A-level maths - AS, A2, further, whatever you like - bring 'em on. Something your teacher rushed through, or something you don't understand why... ask away!

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Posted in gcse, trigonometry

My dad tells me that, above the blackboard in his 1960s Scottish high school, was a banner with the letters 'SOH CAH TOA' written out on it. Any questions about the banner were brushed off with a smile and 'you're not old enough to learn about SOH CAH TOA yet."

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Posted in ranting

There are many questions with only one answer. Or at least, one sensible answer. If someone asks you "Are you dead?", the only possible answer you can give is "no". "Does my bum look big in this?" "Of course not, dear, it looks lovely". And if you say "Is there

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Posted in free-for-all friday

Well... it's not really a free-for-all Friday as I'm on a train to Bristol, but you can still leave me questions here and I'll respond when I'm back in front of a computer. Any A-level maths topics - including Further Maths - you're struggling with, I'll be happy to help

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Posted in statistics

Have a look at this picture. What do you notice? "It's a straight line, Colin!" Very good. You could get a ruler out and draw a straight line through the points. Why would you bother doing such a thing? Well, the idea is that if you can model a data

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Posted in calculus, core 3, logarithms

Every time you're asked to differentiate $a^x$ and you say $xa^{x-1}$, a kitten dies. A kitten that had been raised lovingly by an orphan, her only friend in the whole wide word - DEAD, just because you couldn't be bothered to learn how to do calculus properly. I hope the

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Posted in free-for-all friday

It's Friday, which means... It's free for all Friday time! Any questions you've got, about maths or anything else, pop them in the comments. I'm in the middle of the deadline doldrums (the next Dummies book won't write itself, you know!) but I'll pop in once in a while to

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