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When you solve a problem incorrectly, what's the usual culprit?

  1. "Stupid" Mistakes

    4 vote(s)
  2. Solving the problem incorrectly

    1 vote(s)
  1. Jun 10, 2005 #1
    When you solve a problem incorrectly, what's the usual culprit? Is it a "stupid mistake" (such as accidentally adding when you should have subtracted, etc.) or is it a misapplication of a skill?

    For myself, as I go along in my learning, whenever I get into trouble in an equation, 9 times out of 10 it's some stupid mistake, like accidently leaving off the minus sign of a negative number, or something. Rarely is it because I divided wrong, or thought I understood what to do and found out I didn't.

    What screws you up?


    The Rev
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2005 #2
    Is there a reason that equation's posted?
  4. Jun 10, 2005 #3
    No, sorry. I just love elegant stuff like that, so I place it between the end of my post and my name. It's a self-indulgence thing.


    The Rev
  5. Jun 10, 2005 #4
    Oh cool.

    [tex] x = 0 [/tex]
  6. Jun 10, 2005 #5
    That equation is usually written as

    [tex]e^{i\pi} + 1 = 0[/tex]

    because of the "mystique" of having e, pi, i, addition, multiplication, exponentiation, multiplicative identity, equality, and the additive identity in a neat little package.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 10, 2005
  7. Jun 10, 2005 #6


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    minus signs are probably the biggest source of error.

    or just in general making computations as opposed to understanding what is going on.

    this is why we try to teach our students to want to understand the material as opposed to merely compute.
  8. Jun 10, 2005 #7
    For me it is completely stupid mistakes, or I should at least say 80+% of the time.
  9. Jun 10, 2005 #8
    If we could work [tex]\phi[/tex] and [tex]\frac{1}{137}[/tex] in there somehow, we might have the meaning of life. (Wouldn't it be cool if the resulting equation solved to 42?)


    The Rev
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