Math bloopers heard in math classes

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Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby LSK » Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:57 am UTC

I was prompted to start this with a student mentioning the "standard devastation" on a paper I had to grade because of a lazy teacher giving papers to other students to grade.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby phycoman » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:31 am UTC

AP Stat teacher in high school:
1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 does NOT equal 1!!!

This was also the same teacher who tried to say we couldn't use calculus to prove our answers (probably because she didn't know calculus, she decided on teaching math while in community college) Needless to say it was a frustrating class.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby 3.14159265... » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:46 am UTC

Cos = Pussy (Persian, Arabic, Hebrew)

Trig-Hilarity.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Zohar » Tue Jan 08, 2008 3:38 pm UTC

3.14159265... wrote:Cos = Pussy (Persian, Arabic, Hebrew)

Trig-Hilarity.


Actually, it's more like "Koos".

A TA in a calculus class told us about a test he saw once asking for the limit as x approached zero of: elan(x)/x (he didn't know which course it was, he joked maybe it was calculus for movie appreciation) and the guy decided to use L'Hopital's rule. Of course, he again got elan(x)/x. So he used L'Hopital again. And then once more. Eventually he wrote "I don't have time to finish the proof but it's obvious this would work".

I doubt it's a real story but it's funny.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Pathway » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:59 am UTC

Is that lan(x) the natural logarithm of x? If so, that's pretty funny.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby 3.14159265... » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:22 am UTC

Actually, it's more like "Koos".
Not in persian or Arabic, but yes in Hebrew.

Learning to say "What is this?" in French was also hillarious to that end.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Robin S » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:44 am UTC

Lecturer: "...and now we can find this value using Pythagoras..."
Student (shouts out): "What's Pythagoras?"
Lecturer: (stops dead)
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby joeframbach » Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:42 am UTC

Robin S wrote:Lecturer: "...and now we can find this value using Pythagoras..."
Student (shouts out): "What's Pythagoras?"
Lecturer: (stops dead)


Wait, the lecturer DIED? Shit, I'll have to try this one sometime.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Robin S » Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:10 am UTC

It was hard to tell for the first few seconds, but fortunately he recovered control of his facial expressions and sputtered something along the lines of "Excuse me? What is Pythagoras?"

You had to be there, really.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Zohar » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:44 pm UTC

Pathway wrote:Is that lan(x) the natural logarithm of x? If so, that's pretty funny.


Yes, it means loge(x). I thought that was obvious with lan... That was pretty funny. :-)
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby GBog » Wed Jan 09, 2008 1:46 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
A TA in a calculus class told us about a test he saw once asking for the limit as x approached zero of: elan(x)/x (he didn't know which course it was, he joked maybe it was calculus for movie appreciation) and the guy decided to use L'Hopital's rule. Of course, he again got elan(x)/x. So he used L'Hopital again. And then once more. Eventually he wrote "I don't have time to finish the proof but it's obvious this would work".

I doubt it's a real story but it's funny.


I would definitely use that as a question if I were to make an elementary calculus test.

Evaluate limx->0+ eln(x)/x

Hint: use L'Hôpital, if necessary several times.

Would have been fun to see how the students would react.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby scowdich » Wed Jan 09, 2008 7:35 pm UTC

Isn't eln(x) just x, though? That'd make things a lot easier.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby SpitValve » Wed Jan 09, 2008 8:38 pm UTC

scowdich wrote:Isn't eln(x) just x, though? That'd make things a lot easier.


Exactly, that's the point. The question is extremely easy if you stand back and think about it for a second, but it will catch students who have been just "following the rules" the whole time.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Govalant » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:03 am UTC

GBog wrote:I would definitely use that as a question if I were to make an elementary calculus test.

Evaluate limx->0+ eln(x)/x

Hint: use L'Hôpital, if necessary several times.

Would have been fun to see how the students would react.


I'm going to do that sometime. Promise.



BTW, your avatar is wrong ;).
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Yesila » Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:32 am UTC

Govalant wrote:


BTW, your avatar is wrong ;).


I think it's just using the lazy version of summation notation where "n=0" really means "n is the smallest positive integer that makes sense. I tend to use this (usually accidentally) multiple times each semester. It saves time when writing tests... Proofread? what's that?

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby MrHackman » Thu Jan 10, 2008 7:15 am UTC

The worst math teacher I ever had (first day of class):a meter is a different length in the evening then it is in the morning
Me:*headache*
Teacher:this is because in the evening the meter stick is warmer, and expands slightly.
Me:<explanation of how the meter is defined as the distance light goes in 1/299792458 of a second, and that the meter stick corresponds to that distance, not vice versa>
Teacher:<stunned silence of someone defying him><30 minute rant about how the desk is the perfect student>

He eventually flunked me despite getting every question right on his tests.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby GBog » Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:47 pm UTC

Govalant wrote:BTW, your avatar is wrong ;).


Damn, thanks for notifying me. (Fixed now.)

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby 3.14159265... » Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:23 pm UTC

MrHackman don't be a smart ass. Ever. They suck.

If you want to correct your teacher, do so after the glass, unless it is something you didn't understand. Specially if it is the first day!

Teachers and School are not made for students who know the material to be studied, they are made for the other people.

Your information is completely irrelevant to half the kids, but expanding metal helps with opening cans and thus not irrelevant.

My point, don't be a smart ass, seriously. There is a kid in my class who thinks he is smart. We all hate him. Don't be that guy. It won't get you laid, nor will it make you smarter.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby the tree » Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:36 pm UTC

3.14159265... wrote:My point, don't be a smart ass, seriously.
This would apply if the teacher just missed an important point or made a trivial error, which is different to saying something completely incorrect.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby aguacate » Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:39 pm UTC

MrHackman wrote:The worst math teacher I ever had (first day of class):a meter is a different length in the evening then it is in the morning
Me:*headache*
Teacher:this is because in the evening the meter stick is warmer, and expands slightly.
Me:<explanation of how the meter is defined as the distance light goes in 1/299792458 of a second, and that the meter stick corresponds to that distance, not vice versa>
Teacher:<stunned silence of someone defying him><30 minute rant about how the desk is the perfect student>

He eventually flunked me despite getting every question right on his tests.


The meter can be defined in a lot of ways, and the length of the meter stick in France used to be the definition, up until the 90's I think. So what your teacher said was right, just the wrong timeline. Depending on how old you are.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Token » Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:49 pm UTC

aguacate wrote:The meter can be defined in a lot of ways, and the length of the meter stick in France used to be the definition, up until the 90's I think. So what your teacher said was right, just the wrong timeline. Depending on how old you are.

It would still be wrong even when they used the International Prototype metre (up until 1960). The length was defined as the distance between two lines on the bar, measured at 0°C. I think it's reasonable enough that if you're going for a fairly precise definition, you're not just going to leave your reference lying around in the sun.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby 3.14159265... » Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:26 pm UTC

It does apply.

High school is not supposed to be rigourous. I understand that you think it should be. However a curriculum that is that scientifically rigorous will not produce a good student body.

Not all people think and want to learn the same way as those on XKCD.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby GrammarBatDeath » Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:30 pm UTC

3.14159265... wrote:It does apply.

High school is not supposed to be rigourous. I understand that you think it should be. However a curriculum that is that scientifically rigorous will not produce a good student body.

Not all people think and want to learn the same way as those on XKCD.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby 3.14159265... » Thu Jan 10, 2008 6:39 pm UTC

Alright let's take the approach that we should scrutinize all teachers because obviously they must be brilliant and have learned the material from University perfectly, because of course that is why they choose not to go on.

I see that you guys get everything right all the time, and that no science-nazis don't exist that can even out scrutinize you. But we should reward them for trying to make the teacher look stupid, and then smirking.

Maybe I am saying this stuff from experience, maybe I was that smartass, and then realized it is much better to be the guy/gal that wants to learn.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby skeptical scientist » Thu Jan 10, 2008 7:18 pm UTC

Less serious debate, more funny please!
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby ocean_soul » Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:59 pm UTC

the tree wrote:
3.14159265... wrote:My point, don't be a smart ass, seriously.
This would apply if the teacher just missed an important point or made a trivial error, which is different to saying something completely incorrect.


Second that. (Me teaching complex analysis and the like myself)
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby ocean_soul » Thu Jan 10, 2008 9:05 pm UTC

3.14159265... wrote:Alright let's take the approach that we should scrutinize all teachers because obviously they must be brilliant and have learned the material from University perfectly, because of course that is why they choose not to go on.

I see that you guys get everything right all the time, and that no science-nazis don't exist that can even out scrutinize you. But we should reward them for trying to make the teacher look stupid, and then smirking.

Maybe I am saying this stuff from experience, maybe I was that smartass, and then realized it is much better to be the guy/gal that wants to learn.


There's a big difference between "all teachers...must be brilliant and have learned the material from University perfectly" and saying something as stupid as "the meter is not the same length in the morning and in the evening"
Second point: the teacher should be happy to be corrected and to have learnde something from one of the students. It happend to me that students corrected me about something, so I'm speaaking from experience myself.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Govalant » Thu Jan 10, 2008 9:51 pm UTC

3.14159265... wrote:My point, don't be a smart ass, seriously. There is a kid in my class who thinks he is smart. We all hate him. Don't be that guy. It won't get you laid, nor will it make you smarter.


Same here. This guy we hate tries to correct the teacher(s) on meaningless stuff, and most times, he is wrong. He also bothers the shit out of everyone because he asks stupid questions that are going to be explained in a few minutes.

Anyway, I don't think I have funny story, but my math teacher screwed up pretty often.

Once, when solving some logarithmic problem she calculated some constants like log23 and used them in the calculation (which was 20 lines long). She got 23,28 when the answer was 24 and could be solved in 3 lines.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby LSK » Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:08 am UTC

Before you read this one, solve this problem:

x=-32

Spoiler:
This is a bit of an embarrassing one. A few days ago, my calculus teacher gave a quick exam. Nearly everyone got this problem wrong. It turns out that it's -9 according to order of operations.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Geekthras » Fri Jan 11, 2008 1:23 am UTC

I can see people getting that wrong.

I was in a number theory course, when the teacher put up the formula for primes under n (n/log(n)). Just to make sure, I ask, "Base e right?"
He says "No, base 10."
Ummm
"Are you sure? What about 10? That formula gives 10 primes under 10"
"It's approximate"
"Well, yeah, but why 10? Why not four? Or two? Or e?"
"But it's 10."
This resulted in the TA (19 year old college student who was completely awesome and kicked our 14-15 year old asses at chess) coming up and talking with him, several books being brought out, and in general a 1/2 hour break. (A good thing as no one liked the teacher. It was CTY and basically lecture format, which isn't fun 8 hours a day. Not his fault.). (Also, he pronounced integer as inTEger). The teacher would not admit that what he remembered was wrong, so that evening, at the 2 hour study hall where the TA was around instead of the teacher, he made sure that we understood that he was wrong.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby mikegoo » Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:04 am UTC

Not exactly heard...but I will from time to time be working some long trig problem on the board and writing rather quickly when there will be a few chuckles and giggles from the class...looking back at my work I have sadly written sex in place of sec x. ( Hmm... it's much funnier when it happens in a rather dry spot in a math class full of high school students than written out here.)

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Durandal » Fri Jan 11, 2008 2:20 am UTC

.
Last edited by Durandal on Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:50 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby the tree » Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:59 pm UTC

How would you say sec(x) out loud? My horrible Estuary-English accent means I usually pronounce it as 'sex' anyway.

I still can't help internally giggling at graphs that look in the slightest bit rude.

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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Mathmagic » Fri Jan 11, 2008 3:20 pm UTC

the tree wrote:How would you say sec(x) out loud? My horrible Estuary-English accent means I usually pronounce it as 'sex' anyway.

"Secant ex"?
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby triangl » Fri Jan 11, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

I've got two:

1) A lecturer was talking about applications of different numeral systems (in this case, ternary) and after some calculations ended up with like

3(f(x))
-------
9(g(x))

which he obviously then cancelled down to f(x)/3g(x).

and someone said "hang on, where did the third come from?" and the lecturer said "right ok," returning to the board while he processed the enquiry and then stopped and had no choice but to say "well... three over nine ... is one over three."

The look on his face was priceless!

2) Secondly, not exactly a blooper, but still funny: Back in school a friend of mine, who was probably the best in the class, asked the teacher for assistance, and for a joke he'd cancelled "sin(x)/x" to just "sin", and when she noticed she shrieked "But this is MEANINGLESS!!"
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby evilbeanfiend » Fri Jan 11, 2008 6:17 pm UTC

Durandal wrote:
mikegoo wrote:Not exactly heard...but I will from time to time be working some long trig problem on the board and writing rather quickly when there will be a few chuckles and giggles from the class...looking back at my work I have sadly written sex in place of sec x. ( Hmm... it's much funnier when it happens in a rather dry spot in a math class full of high school students than written out here.)


I did that on a test once. Eight times.

My teacher then introduced to topic of Freudian slips to me.


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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Pathway » Fri Jan 11, 2008 7:59 pm UTC

Haha, I definitely PENIS what you mean.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby antonfire » Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:09 am UTC

triangl wrote:2) Secondly, not exactly a blooper, but still funny: Back in school a friend of mine, who was probably the best in the class, asked the teacher for assistance, and for a joke he'd cancelled "sin(x)/x" to just "sin", and when she noticed she shrieked "But this is MEANINGLESS!!"
That reminds me. What is limn->oo (sin x)/n?
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby Joeldi » Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:49 am UTC

triangl wrote:I've got two:
1) A lecturer was talking about applications of different numeral systems (in this case, ternary) and after some calculations ended up with like

3(f(x))
-------
9(g(x))

which he obviously then cancelled down to f(x)/3g(x).

and someone said "hang on, where did the third come from?" and the lecturer said "right ok," returning to the board while he processed the enquiry and then stopped and had no choice but to say "well... three over nine ... is one over three."

The look on his face was priceless!


:( I have no idea what happened here, I can't see a problem with the answer of the admittal. Doesn't ternary mean you can only have 0,1,2 though? If that's the point, I don't get it.

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My maths teachers made plenty of mistakes over the years, but none of them were notable enough to remember, and they usually just added the "Yeah, that was a test, haha, I'm so funny" excuse when someone pointed them out.

Funniest thing in maths class was the first class we had with an American exchange teacher and whenever she said "Pencil Bag" instead of "Pencil Case" everyone giggled.
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Re: Math bloopers heard in math classes

Postby pkuky » Sat Jan 12, 2008 2:41 pm UTC

most competent teachers, when corrected, just say "vigilance test" and get back to the material. its not that big a deal. there's no reason to start a hate feud with someone over something like that.
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