Math mistakes that can annoy

Discussion in 'Community' started by King Cobra, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. King Cobra macrumors 603

    Mar 2, 2002
    This one is for the math geeks.

    One of the most annoying mistakes for me is when I try to solve one line of algebra and get 6 different answers on my calculator after trying to solve it 14 times, and still and up with the wrong answer. That makes me want to tear about the sheet of paper with my work on it, and destroy my calculator. (I still use my TI-89 from time to time...though 3/4 of my Casio's broke on me after taking maybe 10% of the damage my TI-89 has received. Still, the TI-89 has all working buttons, etc.) Damn those multiple wrong answers, oh, and the cause of the wrong answers was from writing a 1 for a 2. So annoying.
  2. latergator116 macrumors 68000


    Sep 30, 2003
    Providence, RI
    I know exatly what you mean. My math book has lost 5 pages as a result of my anger (luckily, I managed to tape them back in.)

    When I was talking my final exam for geomotry, I felt like ripping up the test. I would do a problem numerous times and still get the wrong answer (it was multiple choice, too.) When I am working on a problem and get frustrated, I find it best to do something else (i.e. watch tv or go on the computer) and then come back to it later. Trying to solve a math problem while frustrated is a bad idea.
  3. stoid macrumors 601


    Feb 17, 2002
    So long, and thanks for all the fish!
    I enjoy Math. I find Calculus to be fun. I slept through half of my Calc classes Senior year of HS and still scored a 5 on the AP test. In high school I competed (and did rather well) in many math competitions.

    I hate Algebra. The difference with Calculus is that if you do something wrong, chances are, you won't get an answer. :D
  4. King Cobra thread starter macrumors 603

    Mar 2, 2002
    Hell yeah! Though I enjoyed being sort of a bad-ass in the class when it came to figuring out which integral did what. So I was mostly awake for that. (In terms of what you just said above, that's the only difference between your experiences and mine.)

    Also, about what you said about making mistakes in Calculus: That becomes more true when you hit the vector calculus stuff involving curlF, because more of the questions have zero for an answer. Though, I like doing algebra and figuring out how I can simplify/change this/that around. I suppose that's why I did real well on the more complicated integral questions involving partial fractions.
  5. themadchemist macrumors 68030


    Jan 31, 2003
    Chi Town
    Yeah, I liked it when my math teacher would just let me teach the AB kids instead of doing my BC self-study stuff. That was fun. Otherwise, I'd just draw...

    Calculus rocks, though, and you get bonus points for me for saying 'curlF.' Brings back good memories, for sure. At that point, tests start being simpler number-wise and more focused on your ability to manipulate on a highly symbolic level (in addition to a fair bit of graphical analysis).

    There is the old standby rule that if the problem really gets extremely complicated arithmetically, the answer was probably zero and you screwed up. :p

    I remember once in MV Integration, my prof gave us a test in which one of the questions was wrong. One of us said something to the TA and he was a bit perplexed and then we all started discussing the problem collectively and expressing the various ways in which it was wrong. The poor TA was horrified and so terribly confused. As people were showing each other their work on the problem, he ran to ask the prof what to do. Indeed, the problem was incorrect.

    That was especially bad after the prof had made a correction to another problem on the test right before the TA handed it out.

    Great prof, though; he taught very well, at least from what I gathered when I occassionally attended class. And a nice guy, too, as math profs tend to be.

    I'm rambling, but it's about math, so it's ok. :D
  6. jimsowden macrumors 68000


    Sep 6, 2003
    I thought this would be like the common phrases that annoy. I'm annoyed when people think that divide by half means cut in half, when it means to double. 'DUH!
  7. blackfox macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003
    To me the biggest mistake is taking math classes in the first place...don't get me wrong, they are (and higher mathmatics is) very interesting and useful stuff...I just don't have the head for it. Always been a Literature/English inclined person instead...strange to be so good at some languages and abstractions and so ****e at others...guess it takes all kinds...

    As for more specific annoyances, I personally dislike small mistakes/lapse in simple math which wreak havoc on more complex problems...keeps one humble I suppose...
  8. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040


    Sep 13, 2003
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    The great thing about calculus is the answer is 1, 0 or -1 except when dealing with round things where its pi.
  9. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Students I tutor often forget the priority of operations and enter calculations into a calculator without the proper parenthesization. If you have some idea what answer you expect (at least the order of magnitude) then you have a good chance of noticing when the answer is nonsensical. But if you trust the calculator without estimating the answer, you are likely to end up totally wrong now and then.

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