Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998
To: The Math Doctors
From: Sonya Del Tredici, Administrator, Ask Dr. Math
Subject: Dr. Math in April

Hello Math Doctors.

There were some things I forgot to include in the Dr. Math March Newsletter, and I thought I'd just send them along to you.

We want to encourage you in your answers to use examples that the students can relate to. Apples and oranges are tried and true and the occasional banana can also be illustrative. Before you write an example, see if it passes the "Can I hold this in my hand?" test.

After several heated but careful discussions here at the Math Forum, we've decided to no longer condone proof by contradiction and proof by induction. From now on, Dr. Math will attempt to be a strictly constructivist K-12 question and answer service. Needless to say, please refrain from using the axiom of choice or results derived therefrom in your answers.

We'd also like you to refrain from discussing irrational numbers. We feel that every student has the right to define their own concepts of irrationality and rationality, and we do not want to impose our dogma on their impressionable minds. If a student brings up irrational numbers like pi or sqrt2 on their own, you may, if you wish, continue to discuss them. However, we have excised all mention of them from our FAQ and archives.

We would also like to caution you as to the use of imaginary numbers. Only students who clearly have a well-grounded sense of reality are equipped to handle the mental cacophony such numbers present. We will maintain references to imaginary numbers in our archives, but access will be limited to those who have passed complex tests.

It's our impression that our students are not being prepared for the global digital age of tomorrow. To give them a leg up, we'd like you to start encoding all of your answers in binary script. Not only is this the language of computers, it's the one we think aliens would understand most readily, so we'll be prepared for that too! If you feel you need to brush up on your binary encoding skills, see the following page:


As a final note, I just wanted to remind you all to be on the alert today. Given that it's April Fool's Day, math students and administrators may be propagating joke e-mails like this one. If you see any such messages, please report them at:


Thanks again for all of the serious efforts you put into Dr. Math.


Ken, Sonya, Melissa, Sarah, Naomi, Steve, Gene, and Karl Friedrich