Posted in quadratics, there's more than one way to do it.

Factorising a quadratic? It's nice when it comes off, but there's a lot of guesswork, and no guarantee it even factorises. Completing the square? Who has time for all that algebra? And as for the quadratic formula, or your clever calculator methods: honestly, what are you, an engineer? There is

Read More →"Cooking," said my friend Liz in a recent Facebook post, "is one of the activities where maths is most useful in my everyday life." She added this picture: I've got several reasons for wanting to share this. 1. It's pretty much a model answer Imagine you're in a GCSE exam,

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Posted in number theory, proof, there's more than one way to do it.

This puzzle was in February's MathsJam Shout, contributed by the Antwerp MathsJam. Visit mathsjam.com to find your nearest event! Consider the set ${1, 11, 111, ...}$ with 2017 elements. Show that at least one of the elements is a multiple of 2017. The Shout describes this one as tough; you

Read More →Uncle Colin recently explained how he would prove the identity $\sin(2x) \equiv 2 \sin(x)\cos(x)$. Naturally, that isn't the only proof. @traumath pointed me at an especially elegant one involving the unit circle. Suppose we have an isosceles triangle set up like this: The vertical 'base' of the triangle is $2\sin(\alpha)$

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Posted in matrices, there's more than one way to do it.

So much wasted time. I spent much of my first two years at university cursing the names of Gauss and Jordan, railing at my lecturer (who grim-facedly assured me there were no more useful uses of a student’s thinking time than ham-fistedly rearranging these things), and thinking “there MUST be

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Posted in further pure 1, matrices, there's more than one way to do it.

Oh, the days -- weeks, even -- of my university life I spent working out the determinants of matrices. The 3×3 version was the main culprit, of course, usually needing to be split down into three smaller determinants, and usually requiring a sign change in one or two that I'd

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Posted in gcse, there's more than one way to do it.

A student asks: I don't get the Venn diagram method for highest common factor and least common multiple. Do you have any other suggestions? As it happens, I do. I'm assuming you're OK with finding the prime factorisation of a number using (for example) a factor tree. In this example,

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