Wolfram Alpha Widgets

You can now customize your Wolfram Alpha (W|A) queries using a W|A widget right on your web site. It’s currently in the Beta stage. You’ll see a widget,which I cooked up in a few minutes, below this post. I was able to control the output to just what I wanted. I did not need all sorts of complex number representations… Read more →

Writing Math in Word 2007

In the past, I have not required my students to typeset math in their homework. They had the option of using Equation Editor or doing it by hand within their word processed documents. I have also encouraged them to use Google Docs, which has a TeX-like interface for math equations. I recently started using the MS Word 2007 equation editor,… Read more →

"No Excuses" Software for Math

Just finished teaching a short course on software for use in math classes.It’s a course required for math majors, and the objective is to familiarize students with the various types of software to do math. Way back when, like ten years ago, math software was the domain of licensed software housed in college computer labs. The usual stuff happened –… Read more →

Proofs and Wolfram Alpha

In my Introduction to Proofs course, I discussed the proof the following: The cube of an integer is of the form 9k, 9k+1, or 9k+8, for some integer k. The problem is from the text I use, How to Think Like a Mathematician: A Companion to Undergraduate Mathematics The big idea here is to to note that any integer can… Read more →

Teaching teachers to teach

An article in last Sunday’s New York Times discusses the complex issue of teacher preparation. The writer of the article includes a lengthy discussion of math teaching in particular. I found it to be quite interesting – the work of math educators doesn’t usually make it to mainstream media. Hopefully the Times will continue its coverage of key education issues… Read more →

Getting students to be quantitatively literate

One of the main aims in teaching a Math for Liberal Arts course is to get students to have a better appreciation of general mathematics. And what better way to do that than to have them read math articles or blogs aimed at a general audience? Sounds like a good plan, but I needed to make it a graded assignment… Read more →

Online math courses and academic integrity

For the past three years, I have been teaching an online math course every semester. To ensure that the students taking the class are really the ones who signed up, I have always used in class midterm and final exams. I check their ID and my grading system system reflects a heavy weighting toward the in-class tests. I encourage students… Read more →

Counterexamples in Calculus

One way I motivate critical thinking in my Intro to Proofs class is by using counterexamples. The book, Using Counter-examples in Calculus by Mason and Klymchuk, provides an accessible set of ideas to think about. Producing counterexamples is an important step to thinking about proofs in general, especially for students who are used to computations. What I really liked about… Read more →

The paradox of higher math standards in high school

Those of us who regularly deal  with entering college freshmen are all too familiar with their inadequate math preparation. But in fact, high school mathematics has been ramped up quite a bit in terms of content. What happened? An article in the American Physical Society discusses this paradox. The author of the article, Dr. Joseph Ganem,  is a professor of… Read more →

Efficient Math Commands for Wolfram Alpha

Wolfram Alpha is a free, online, computational engine. It provides some of the power of a computational algebra system (CAS) such as Maple or Mathematica without having to learn the proper syntax. However, it takes a little bit of practice to get WA to give exactly what you want. Here, I’ll give a list of queries that are commonly used… Read more →