Saturday, 10 April 2010

Number of Answers | Common mistake

Maths can be tricky when you are not careful.
This is not to frighten you, though.

This post is just to remind you of the wonderful aspect of maths in covering all areas.

Below is an example of what I meant.

Let's take the quadratic eqaution solving as a starting point

x2 = 5x

x  = 5x  /  x   = 5  (Answer)

At first, this looks pretty fine. The answer, when substituted back, produces match of equation.

But this is actually not complete.

Those doing quadratic equation will know 2nd order (x2) equation evaluates to 2 answsers.
The answers may be the same though.

Now, if we approach it using another method, let's see the different.

x2 - 5x = 0

==> x (x - 5) = 0   , after factorising

==>  x = 0  and  (x - 5) = 0
==>  x = 0  and   x = 5

There are two answers now.

We had the x = 5 initially, but what about this new x = 0.

We have missed out on the x = 0 with the first mehtod. It looks OK then.

What happen?
It may be due to lack of experience handling this form of maths question.

The concept in solving quadratic equation is actually not limited to second order.
The hidden message is depending on the order, the number of answers will follow suit.

What I meant is :
2nd order gives 2 answers,
3rd order gives 3 answers,
4th order gives 4 answers, etc.

It is this verry message that maths learner should capture. Otherwise you will be tricked to give only one answer which leads you to "mistakes" of being incomplete.

I agree that this is tricky, but within reasonable argument.
If a student practice hard (and smart), he will not fall prey to this type of simple math problem.

Do not get con again.

Enjoy maths. It's fun and interesting.


1 comment:

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