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IntMath Newsletter - Radicals, Integrator and Goals

By Murray Bourne, 10 Jan 2009

10 Jan 2009

In this Newsletter

1. Happy New Year and Information
2. Real life Math
3. Math tip - Radicals
4. New in IntMath - Integrator, from Mathematica
5. From the math blog
6. Final thought - Your goals for 2009

1. Happy New Year and Information

Happy 2009, everyone!

Welcome to all the new people that have joined the IntMath Newsletter recently.

There are now thousands of IntMath subscribers from over 130 different countries, including (in alphabetical order) Afghanistan, Albania, & Australia; all the way through to United States, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Aim: The aim of this Newsletter is to help you with math. It includes algebra tips, introductions to different math topics, real-life applications of math and whatever interesting stuff I come across.

The Newsletter also aims to encourage you to use your education — including the math you learn — to improve the world.

Topics: The readers of this Newsletter range from students of pre-algebra through to instructors of calculus. I try to write about topics that will interest everyone.

I love reading your comments — keep them coming!

The IntMath Newsletter has been going since October 2006. You can see all the old Newsletters here: IntMath Newsletter archives.

2. Real life Math

Many of you have been asking for more examples of 'real life' math. In the next few Newsletters, I'll dig out some of the earlier short articles I wrote on this topic for you. Here's the first two:

Violence in schools - real life statistics. Textbook statistics is usually really boring for most students. Using authentic data is a good way to trigger thoughts about the human condition, and to see the relevance of math. You could survey your own class and compare to this USA national data.

Gaisma - Real Life Sine Graphs talks about how daylight graphs resemble the sine curve.

3. Math tip - Radicals

Several readers have asked for information about radicals. A radical involves the square too sign √. It’s one of those topics that you wonder why you have to do it, but the skills are really useful in later mathematics because it helps to solve problems.

So I thought it was a good chance to revise the chapter on Exponents and Radicals.

I added a whole lot more examples and explanations throughout the chapter. I hope you find it useful.

That link again: Exponents and Radicals.

4. New in IntMath - Integrator, from Mathematica

"Integrator" is a no-cost widget that allows you to solve any integration problem using the Mathematica computer algebra system, online.

You can find the "Integrator" at the bottom of any page in the Integration chapters in Interactive Mathematics, starting here: Integration.

Of course, make sure you know how to enter the expression you are trying to integrate. Go to this help page first.

[The Integrator is not the same tool as the very popular Algebra Problem Solver, which can also do integrations.]

5. From the math blog

1) Where is the Dow Jones heading?
Here are some possible models for the DJIA (Dow Jones Industrial Average). This is an important β€˜real-life’ application of math.

2) Math for Moms and Dads
"Math for Moms and Dads" will be a valuable book for parents who struggle to help their children with math homework.

6. Final thought - Your goals for 2009

Most people make New Years resolutions, but forget them by the middle of January.

What math goals did you make for 2009? Will you make any changes to what you did in 2008? If you don’t, you’ll probably learn the same amount and get a similar grade. But do you want to improve? You have to make changes now, or 2009 will be just the same as 2008.

My suggestion is to make a one-year plan first. What math grade do you want to achieve by Dec 2009? (Let’s assume you want to improve by 2 letter grades).

OK, now think about what you'll need to do each month to achieve that goal (you’ll need to improve by about 2 or 3 percent each month, to achieve the yearly goal). Now, think about what will be necessary each week to achieve that. Maybe one extra hour of math per week, compared to what you did in 2008?

As the Chinese say, every journey begins with a single step.

Here’s a quick story, before I finish. I asked Khalid, one of my readers from Afghanistan, how it was going for him. He replied:

You asked about the situation in my country. In Afghanistan the situation is not so good but in these days we have snow and it looks nice.

I love Khalid’s positive outlook.

All the best and wishing you a very successful year. I hope 2009 is not too tough for you − and your country.

See the 5 Comments below.

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