# Stupid, little, tiny, itsy-bitsy, yet problem-breaking

1. Jan 18, 2006

### Blahness

errors that I make commonly are ANNOYING.

Examples:

Forgetting to add or multiply something, and just using 1 number, forgetting the other number completely

Basic arithmetic errors out of haste

And so on. What's a good way to help lower the number of "minor" errors?

2. Jan 18, 2006

### JasonRox

That happens to everybody.

3. Jan 18, 2006

### benorin

In what context to do encounter said problems? If you been at the homework for some hours now: go, take a break.

4. Jan 19, 2006

### Blahness

Any time, especially in algebraic quadratic functions, or complex fractions, where I tend to forget a factor and completely leave it out, or just make math mistakes with medium-sized multiplications(2 digit numbers multiplied).

Happens most often during tests, screwing over my grade.

5. Jan 19, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

The single biggest help that I've learned for my calculations is to carry units through in all operations. For every term in every line of my calculations, I carry the units along. This often catches places where I've omitted a squared term, or made some other procedural error. The units have to match up in the operations, or something has gotten misplaced or neglected.

6. Jan 19, 2006

### Integral

Staff Emeritus
Repeat your calculations until you get the same result 3 times in a row.

7. Jan 19, 2006

### JasonRox

That works, but first make estimates.

Do yourself an estimate before attempting the question or something. If the question isn't remotely close, then double check everything.

If it's close, quickly scan through where errors might occur.

After awhile you will become much more accurate with your estimates through practice.

8. Jan 19, 2006

### matt grime

Estimates? Dear god, what crappy level of maths are you doing that you have things that can be estimated?

9. Jan 19, 2006

### bomba923

Hmm...
I'd also suggest mentally repeating the procedure that you used to solve a problem (helps to detect inconstencies in logic and thought). Should a conflict occur, use logic to resolve it.

(Also, mentioned here are some mistakes which I don't consider 'minor' at all
--And I'm not talking about the occasional +/- and other arithmetic errors...)

Last edited: Jan 19, 2006
10. Jan 19, 2006

### JasonRox

:grumpy:
Who said the estimates have to be accurate?

It can be as simple as... it must obviously be positive. If not, then obviously, it's wrong.

I never look at an integral, and say... hmmm... maybe around 4.23123. :grumpy:

11. Jan 19, 2006

### Plastic Photon

I made mistakes in algebra last semester. I would multiply 5x4 and get 5. I would just forget to multiply. Or I would divide 18 by 2 and get 8. My professor wasn't as interested in my mistake of operations as much about whether or not I understood fully what I was doing.

You have to learn to relax and remain confident in your ability.

12. Jan 20, 2006

### 0rthodontist

I used to make a lot of mistakes and now I almost never do if I have enough time. Just carefully check every step of your work.

13. Jan 20, 2006

### matt grime

who said anything about accuracy? not me. i thought you were doing maths of the level of topology and proper algebra now, i didn't reallize you actually had to still do integrals and other depressing calculations. i thought you'd managed to get away from that and were doing interesting maths now. i'm truly sorry that they still make you do maths for engineers.

i gave up on making estimates for calculations of the 'is it plausible' type when i went to teach in the states. the questions were all written in imperial (yes, i know i'm british but we're metric officially, especially in education) so when students saked me if their answer was correct i had no idea if it was even ballpark: what the hell does 450 cubic inches look like?

14. Jan 20, 2006

### JasonRox

I myself don't make estimates anymore, but I had to before I got here today.

My degree is in Applied Mathematics, so it would be no surprise if I'm forced to take a couse that requires endless calculations.

15. Jan 21, 2006

Just because you're doing algebra and topology doesn't mean you aren't doing calculations as well. Sometimes people have odd combinations of courses. For instance, this semester, in my five different courses I will be learning:
The definition of a group
Calculating simplicial homology
The definition of a vector
Calculations using Stoke's theorem
and
A rigorous proof of Stoke's theorem
All at the same time.

16. Jan 21, 2006

### JasonRox

I agree with matt grime that after a certain point you should be done with it all.

In fact, I should be done, but I have to follow whatever the school tells me to do.

17. Jan 21, 2006

### matt grime

I don't see that any of those things require numerical evaluations that are hard if any at all.

How can you be doing simplicial homology (defined by a quotient of a differential graded Z module on the simplicial subsets of a complex) and not know what a vector is (an element in a vector space)?

It seems odd that you're doing algebraic topology (3rd year undergrad course) at the same time as defining a group for the first time (highschool).

18. Jan 21, 2006

Well, around here Algebraic Toplogy is a fourth year course, and groups are second year. And my point was that this is indeed a very odd combination, but sometimes those sorts of combinations happen. Also, for the record, Algebraic Topology is the only class where I don't already know all the material.

And in my calculus class we are doing lots of calculations: computing double integrals, finding extrema of functions, computing line integrals.

19. Jan 21, 2006

### matt grime

Ah, so you're doing a particularly odd set of courses, and the material in your courses is stuff you already know, further making you not a regular student. I won't be too worried that I have overlooked that case in my egregious generalizations.

20. Jan 21, 2006