It’s all in the communication


Recently, I enjoyed this article “This Math Problem Will Make You Lose Your Mind“.  It all revolves around the solution of this problem.

Screenshot 2017-05-29 at 09.21.42

It generated quite a bit of discussion from friends of mine, along with different answers.  In fact, even the internet doesn’t quite have its act together.  Turning to YouTube, you’ll find a couple of different answers fully documented in video.

How can the internet be wrong?

Our discussion eventually got around to the use of ÷ and / to denote division.  (I threw in \ which in programming means integer division just to make things muddier.)  Peter Been jumped in with his thoughts and a couple of terms that I had long since forgotten – obelus and solidus.

All in all, I found the discussion really interesting.  It also reminded me of a comment from a university professor about mathematics.  “It’s not just a science; it’s an art; it’s a communication vehicle.”

It’s the communication vehicle that we should really give credence to.  If we believe that there should only be one answer to a problem, then the problem needs to be communicated in a way that leads to the solution.  Not the trick problems that we loved/hated on test.

Which led me to this resource, Welcome To Mathematical Communication.

Screenshot 2017-05-29 at 09.47.25

If it’s important enough to do, it’s important enough to communicate it accurately and effectively.  This resource is just packed with advice and suggestions to become more effective mathematics communicators.


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