Friday, October 06, 2006

Get Real!

My posting pace has certainly slowed in the face of my studies! I'm about to head to campus for my first mid-term in Real Analysis (affectionately known as "Real").

In a few hours I will know for sure whether or not I "get real!"

As I've studied, I've actually come to have a favorite line from my notes, that I'm sure you would love to know about. Here it is:

I've always used the fact that math is a language, often quite a foreign language, as a way to reassure my own students that I understand what they are going through and to encourage them in how to approach it. Here is proof positive that math is a (foreign) language. It's a good thing I LOVE languages!

Now it's YOUR turn to "get real!" Try to translate that line. Oh, come on, give it a try. I won't test you on it! Click on comments to see the translation into English.


Heidi said...


Every positive number has one and only one positive square root.

Somewhat stricter translation:

For every positive real number there is a unique positive real number that when squared gives you the first number.

David Meyer said...

It's (almost) all Greek to me! Way to go H. I think you are definitely getting real. =)

antonio said...

Gee, Heidi, that's only the first sentence, why didn't you finish the paragraph?

Math is so Rrrrrrreeeeeaaal when One understands the language, otherwise anyone can ask Confusion to leave and Enlightnment to drop by and visit.

Brian said...

David - most of it IS Greek, but there's a bit of Hindu-Arabic numeration, plus a few modern symbols such as > and ! thrown in for good measure. :)

I usually think of this notation as a type of shorthand. It's pretty cool how you can have a really long-winded, technical sentence condensed down into a short string of appropriate symbols!

When used correctly, notation is really a great way to go. But when used by an untrained novice, it's REALLY obvious! Few things stand out more than incorrect notation! So I always advise my students to either carefully and correctly use notation, or write it out long-hand!