Tag Archives: history

Calculus without limits 2

As h approaches zero
I quietly despair.
It really is the limit.
Please don’t take me there.

The funny thing about the calculus is that it was brought into existence by Isaac Newton in 1666 or earlier, and was developed and used without the idea of limits for over 150 years. The first attempt to get rid of the troublesome infinitesimals was by Cauchy in 1821, where he introduced the chord slope (f(x + h) – f(x))/h. The whole business of finding a satisfactory definition of the derivative was finally achieved by Weierstrass in the mid 19th century.

So here we go with cubics, and the same approach can be used for any whole number power of x, even negative ones. You should try it.

calculus2

Next time  sin(x) and cos(x), so no more  sin(h)/h stuff.

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Filed under algebra, calculus, education, teaching, verse

“Why do Americans stink at math?” Your weekend MUST-READ

I reached this long but well written and quite compelling article by Elizabeth Green via Dan Meyer’s blog. Everyone should read it, especially education administrators and decision makers, all the way to politicians.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/magazine/why-do-americans-stink-at-math.html?_r=1

Here are two excerpts:

With the Common Core, teachers are once more being asked to unlearn an old approach and learn an entirely new one, essentially on their own. Training is still weak and infrequent, and principals — who are no more skilled at math than their teachers — remain unprepared to offer support. Textbooks, once again, have received only surface adjustments, despite the shiny Common Core labels that decorate their covers. “To have a vendor say their product is Common Core is close to meaningless,” says Phil Daro, an author of the math standards.

Most policies aimed at improving teaching conceive of the job not as a craft that needs to be taught but as a natural-born talent that teachers either decide to muster or don’t possess. Instead of acknowledging that changes like the new math are something teachers must learn over time, we mandate them as “standards” that teachers are expected to simply “adopt.” We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that their students don’t improve.

Here is Dan’s post

 

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Filed under abstract, arithmetic, language in math, Uncategorized