The Flying Colours Maths Blog: Latest posts

Prim vs Kruskal

A student asks: How do you remember the difference between Prim’s algorithm and Kruskal’s algorithm? In honesty, I don’t. This is one of the things that REALLY FRUSTRATES me about D1: it puts so much emphasis on remembering whose algorithm was whose1 ahead of figuring out how to program computers

Read More

The Mathematical Ninja and The $n$th Term

Note: this post is only about arithmetic and quadratic sequences for GCSE. Geometric and other series, you're on your own. Quite how the Mathematical Ninja had set up his classroom so that a boulder would roll through it at precisely that moment, the student didn't have time to ponder. He

Read More

A Gardner-esque puzzle

One of my favourite sources of puzzles at the moment is @WWMGT - What Would Martin Gardner Tweet? (Martin Gardner, in case you’re not up on the greats of popular maths writing, was one of the greats of popular maths writing - and is indirectly responsible for Big MathsJam.) Recently,

Read More

Wrong, But Useful – Episode 22

A very short episode of WBU, as @reflectivemaths is moving house.

Read More

The Curse of the Mathematician

Another guest NME cartoon from Dominika.

Read More

How would you work out $3^{0.7}$?

So, there you are, stuck on a desert island, you've played your eight pieces of music, burnt the Bible and Shakespeare, and now you're kicking yourself for not bringing a calculator as your luxury item. An emergency has broken out and it's vital for your to work out $3^{0.7}$ as

Read More

The pull of the planets

This piece was entirely rewritten 2017-06-20 in response to a correction by Adam Atkinson. A friend of a friend stated: "... the planets exert an enormous influence on the tides..." ... and that set my oh-no-they-don't-o-meter. Let's have a look, shall we? You might think - as I did when

Read More

A student asks… about percentages

A student asks: Why do you multiply by 1.07 if you're adding 7%? I thought 7% was 0.07. You're quite right - 0.07 is exactly the same thing as 7% (and, if you like, $\frac{7}{100}$). However, if you're adding on 7%, you need to multiply by 1.07, and here's why.

Read More

A student asks: upper bounds

A student asks: When you've got a value to the nearest whole number, why is the upper bound something $.5$ rather than $.4$? Doesn't $.5$ round up? So I don't have to keep writing something$.5$, let's pick a number, and say we've got 12 to the nearest whole number. $12.5$

Read More

The Attack of the Mathematical Zombie: $(a+b)^2$

An occasional series highlighting common errors that refuse to die. “It just… won’t stay dead!” he said, as the Mathematical Zombie moved closer. “$(a+b)^2 = a^2 + b^2$”, it said. “Brains! $(a+b)^2 = a^2 + b^2$.” “But… it doesn’t!” he said. “You have to multiply out the brackets!” “$(a+b)^2 =

Read More

Sign up for the Sum Comfort newsletter and get a free e-book of mathematical quotations.

No spam ever, obviously.

Where do you teach?

I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

On twitter