# Questions tagged [mathematics-education]

For questions in Mathematics Education as a scientific discipline. For more hands-on questions on teaching Mathematics, please use the tag teaching. There is also a Stack Exchange community http://matheducators.stackexchange.com/

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### Unexpected applications of the fact that nth degree polynomials are determined by n+1 points

I had a funny idea for proving an identity in Euclidean geometry. While it didn't end up being a very nice proof strategy in my case, I would still like to collect nice examples of where the proof ...
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### learning sources about Ihara Coefficient

Do we have any good sources(lecture notes or books) for learning about $Ihara$ Coefficient? Is there any relation between $Ihara$ Coefficient and the eigenvalues of graphs? Thanks for any help.
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### Short Course Suggestions For High School Students

I am planning to teach a course for talented high school students at a summer camp and I need suggestions for possible topics. The students usually have different backgrounds but most of them are ...
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### How to write popular mathematics well? [closed]

Recently, some classmates and I were lamenting the fact that our classmates in other disciplines had almost no conception of what we did, despite the large mathematics population at Waterloo. Instead ...
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### Taylor's theorem and the symmetric group

Anytime I see an $n!$ in some formula, my instinct is to look for the symmetric group on $n$ letters coming in somewhere. I have never done this seriously with the $n!$ in Taylor's theorem. Question: ...
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### Motivating Algebra and Analysis for Average Undergraduates

I work at a small liberal arts college, where many of our mathematics majors will not attend graduate school in mathematics. My hope in asking the following question is to gather innovative ideas for ...
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### Virtual algebraic calculation within proofs

It seems to me that the undergraduates I teach have particular difficulty with proofs that involve reasoning about algebraic calculations that arise only theoretically. Since I have in mind doing ...
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### Taking “Zooming in on a point of a graph” seriously

In calculus classes it is sometimes said that the tangent line to a curve at a point is the line that we get by "zooming in" on that point with an infinitely powerful microscope. This explanation ...
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### Is beauty at the high school level even possible? [closed]

This question is a follow up to 74841, and follows from a suggestion by Gian-Carlo Rota that beauty as judged by the educated public differs from that experienced by mathematicians (he gives Euclidean ...
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### An example of a beautiful proof that would be accessible at the high school level?

The background of my question comes from an observation that what we teach in schools does not always reflect what we practice. Beauty is part of what drives mathematicians, but we rarely talk about ...
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### How misleading is it to regard $\frac{dy}{dx}$ as a fraction?

I am teaching Calc I, for the first time, and I haven't seriously revisited the subject in quite some time. An interesting pedagogy question came up: How misleading is it to regard $\frac{dy}{dx}$ as ...
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### An image of the hierarchy of algebraic structures

Hello! Does anybody know an image of a graph featuring the hierarchy of algebraic structures? Something rather complete. So far I've found similar images describing the hierarchies of classes/...
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### Looking for ideas concerning the teaching of lower-division differential equation courses…

I'm looking for problems/lessons plans that could be used in a lower-division differential equations course that involve discerning properties of solutions of an equation, IVP, or BVP, without looking ...
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### Interesting and Accessible Topics in Graph Theory

This summer, I will be teaching an introductory course in graph theory to talented high school seniors. The intent of the course is not to establish proficiency in graph theory, per se. Rather, I hope ...
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### Looking for an appealing counterexample in probability

There is a commonly-encountered-but-wrong rule of thumb that says something like If a probability distribution is positively skewed, its mean is greater than its median. (You sometimes also see it ...
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### Seemingly emergent structures in mathematics

I rather suspect that this must have come up here on MO already, but my handful of searches didn't turn up the thread, so... I'm curious about examples of mathematical structure that seems to arise "...
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### How to memorise (understand) Nakayama's lemma and its corollaries?

Nakayama's lemma is mentioned in the majority of books on algebraic geometry that treat varieties. So I think Ihave read the formulation of this lemma at least 20 times (and read the proof maybe ...
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### Simple groups with the same cardinality as PSL_2(Z/p)

In an undergrad honors algebra course it's sometimes shown that when $p$ is prime and $>3$ then $PSL_2(Z/p)$ is simple of of order $p(p-1)(p+1)/2$. But that this is the "only" simple group having ...
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### Elementary+Short+Useful

Imagine your-self in front of a class with very good undergraduates who plan to do mathematics (professionally) in the future. You have 30 minutes after that you do not see these students again. You ...
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### Place of Analytic geometry in modern undergraduate curriculum

I am a freshmen student in mathematics at Moscow State University (in Russia) and I'm confused with placing the subject called "analytic geometry" into the system of mathematical knowledge (if you ...
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### Which topics/problems could you show to a bright first year mathematics student?

I am teaching a one semester course (January to June) to first year students pursuing various different degrees. Because there are students studying actuarial science, physics, other sciences, other ...
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### Possibility of an Elementary Differential Geometry Course

I have to admit I'm not sure if this is an appropriate question. It's related to research in math education, but not directly to math. I've found that in talking to professional physicists and ...
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### Leibnizian calculus textbook

Where can I find a calculus textbook that emphasizes differentials? Is there such a book that I could realistically require my calculus students to use? I want a textbook that supports me when I tell ...
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### Can formally differentiating give a derivative of a discrete function?

When I teach calculus, I really try to stress the importance of knowing the domain of a function. One example that I sometimes like to use to show students the importance of inspecting the domain is ...
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### Self-taught undergrad math: ordering of topics?

After some initial research on math topics, it seems there are about 4 main streams as follows: 1) calculus -> analysis -> complex variables 2) linear algebra -> abstract algebra -> topology 3) ...
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### Is there evidence whether undergraduate math courses improve problem-solving?

The most commonly stated reason for why mathematics should be a required condition for graduating is }to improve problem-solving skills". Usually it's taken for granted that taking a mathematics ...
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It can be difficult to learn mathematics on your own from textbooks, and I often wish universities videotaped their mathematics courses and distributed them for free online. Fortunately, some ...
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### Simple but serious problems for the edification of non-mathematicians

When people graduate with honors from prestigious universities thinking everything in math is already known and the field consists of memorizing algorithms, then the educational system has failed in ...
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How does one apply to graduate school when he has been working for sometime? I am interested in pursuing a PhD in math and making a career switch. Would my work experience benefit my application (I am ...
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### Best Practices for Learning Mathematics (especially in the classroom) [closed]

I am an undergraduate CS major with strong interests in applied math and theoretical computer science. In the past, I've done reasonably well grade-wise in all math-related (that is, pure math, ...
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### Teaching undergraduate students to write proofs

In my experience, there are roughly two approaches to teaching (North American) undergraduates to write proofs: Students see proofs in lecture and in the textbooks, and proofs are explained when ...
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### Reasons for the importance of planarity and colorability?

Could it have been foreseen that - exemplarily - planarity and colorability would turn out to be such important concepts in graph theory (there's almost no textbook on graphs without two chapters ...
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### Where and when did “transition to abstraction” courses start?

I often find myself debating the content and structure of such courses and I would find it useful to know the basic history. I don't remember any such offerings during my own undergraduate days in ...
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### Good ways to engage in mathematics outreach?

Greetings all, I have often heard that it would be good if we as a community did more in the way of mathematics outreach: more to explain what it is we do to the community at large, more to expose ...
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### Pedagogical question concerning $\Gamma(z)$

Pedagogically speaking, I see two problems with defining $\Gamma(z)$ (at least for real $z$) by the limit $$\Gamma(z)=\lim_{m\to\infty}\frac{m! m^z}{\prod_{i=0}^m (z+i)}$$ as compared with the formula ...
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### What is the simplest, most elementary proof that a particular number is transcendental?

I teach, among many other things, a class of wonderful and inquisitive 7th graders. We've recently been studying and discussing various number systems (N, Z, Q, R, C, algebraic numbers, and even ...
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### Best examples of physics providing insight into math [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: Examples where physical heuristics led to incorrect answers? Examples of using physical intuition to solve math problems V. I. Arnold argues (http://pauli.uni-muenster.de/~...
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### How To Present Mathematics To Non-Mathematicians?

(Added an epilogue) I started a job as a TA, and it requires me to take a five sessions workshop about better teaching in which we have to present a 10 minutes lecture (micro-teaching). In the last ...
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Hello, I'd love to learn more about the field of additive combinatorics. From what I've understand, there's a book by Tao and Vu out on the subject, and it looks fun, but I think I lack the ...
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### Mathematics Graduate Student Summer Opportunities

I am currently a mathematics graduate student at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY. I am looking for some kind of summer opportunity to participate in during summer 2011. Does anyone ...
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### How quickly will billiard trajectories cluster?

Suppose you launch $n$ point-particles on distinct reflecting nonperiodic billiard trajectories inside a convex polygon. Assume they all have the same speed. Define an $\epsilon$-cluster as a ...
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### Is the boundary $\partial S$ analogous to a derivative?

Without prethought, I mentioned in class once that the reason the symbol $\partial$ is used to represent the boundary operator in topology is that its behavior is akin to a derivative. But after ...
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### What topics should be included in a calculus-for-the-liberal arts course?

I have in mind a course taken by liberal-arts students who will probably never take another math course. I would like such a course to convey some of the way mathematical thinking is done (i.e. not a ...
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### Name for a basic principle of calculus?

$$[\text{size of boundary}] \times [\text{rate of motion of boundary}] = [\text{rate of change of size of bounded region}]$$ This differs from the fundamental theorem of calculus in that it does not ...
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### Does any textbook take this approach to the isomorphism theorems?

Below, I present an outline of a proof of the first isomorphism theorem for groups. This is how I usually think of the first isomorphism theorem for ______, but groups will get the points across. My ...
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### (How) should I take notes on a subject for self-study? [closed]

Suppose I am interested in really learning / thoroughly reviewing some subject (e.g. the basic theorems of infinite Galois theory, or the classification of compact Lie groups). One approach I might ...
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### How do I explain the number e to a ten year old? [closed]

Hardly a research level question, but interesting nonetheless, I hope. Pi is easy, but not e. Where could I start?
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### Teaching proofs in the era of Google

Dear members, Way back in the stone age when I was an undergraduate (the mid 90's), the internet was a germinal thing and that consisted of not much more than e-mail, ftp and the unix "talk" command ...