Ask Dr. Math: The Math Doctors' Newsletter

by Stacey Bearden

August, 1998

Date: Wed, 2 Sep 1998 13:30:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Stacey Bearden
To: All Dr. Math Doctors
Subject: Dr. Math in August

Ask Dr. Math Newsletter
August, 1998

Greetings Math Doctors!  You may notice that this newsletter has a new 
author, because one of our administrators and former newsletter author  
Sonya Del Tredici (Dr. Sonya) is moving on; she will be teaching math 
and physics at a private high school in Boston this upcoming school 
year.  We will all miss her, but hopefully we'll still see a memo or two 
from her hand in the Holding Tank.  Good luck Sonya!


Well, even though it is summertime, we've still been seeing quite a few 
questions in Triage.  And I suppose some school systems start in August.  
So here are our August stats:

2694 -- incoming questions
1453 -- answered questions
54% -- percent answered


This month has been a little slow, with summer vacations and the changing 
of the guard (two new administrators, Tim (Dr. Timothy) Bretl and myself, 
to replace Dr. Naomi and Dr. Sonya).  Therefore, we haven't been training
new math doctors.  But with the beginning of this school year, we will 
fast begin to train new doctors to help out with the flood of questions 
coming into triage.


We also have several new FAQs this month (not everyone was lazy!):

Geometric Figures - Formula FAQ
   To find formulas for ellipses and ellipsoids, polygons and polyhedra, 
consult this Frequently Asked Questions unit by Robert Ward, a 'math doctor' 
and volunteer administrator for Ask Dr. Math.

Learning to Factor
   A sampling of answers from our archives.

Learning Multiplication Facts  
   Tips for parents, teachers, and students for different ways of learning
to multiply.

Dividing by 0
   Why can't you divide by 0? Why is 0/0 "indeterminate" and 1/0
"undefined"? Why is dividing by zero "illegal"?

The above three FAQs are similar in that rather than attempting to 
create one answer to a question, they excerpt answers from the archives 
and/or assemble links, providing useful shortcuts.

If any of you would like to put together a list of answers in the 
archives that respond to a frequently asked question, just send the URLs 
to  She can then make up similar pages for 
other topics.

Also, as always, if you have any difficulties with an archived problem 
(for example, you suspect the answer is wrong), direct your concern to   


And we've received some great thank-you notes this month.  Here's a 

For Dr. Wilkinson -
   oh yes!!! thankyou sooo much for answering my
question!!!!!!!! it helped majorly!!!!!!!

Dear Dr. Peterson,
   I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your reply. Many high school
textbook authors should sit down and talk with you. The type problem 
I cited in my letter appears  many times in my algebra textbooks. 
I am a full-time math tutor with a classroom attached to my residence. 
My senior citizen heart goes out to the many students who come to me, 
some for seven successive years. Naturally, I want to give them the 
very best instruction.You have helped me immensely to do just that. 
I now know how to explain this subject.

   I have been on the Internet only three weeks. Your web site is a dream 
come true. I also appreciate the Texas Instrument references you provided. 
I made a hard copy of your comments and theirs. Thanks again for taking 
the time to research the subject. I received much more enlightenment 
than I expected. It feels good to be able to turn to someone else for 
help once in a while. - Art DeBevoise

For Dr. Rick -
   Thank you very much for your response. It helped me see more clearly. 
I should have known my first thought was correct and my calculator was 
right when it said error... thanks for your insight!

For Dr. Rob -
   Thanks for your help. It is wonderful to have nice people in the world! 
Thanks again. I think I know my answer. Great page for us who have trouble 
trying to remember from years gone by =) Thanks again! - Dana

For everyone -
   Thanks for being there. I am in the process of returning to college for 
my nursing diploma. Math was never my favorite subject but thanks to you, 
you have made learning fun. I have not been in a classroom setting for 
several years and it is nice to know that I have somewhere to turn without 
feeling too embarrassed. Thank you.

Doctor Pat,
   I just wanted to say thank you for your help on my problem with finding 
the general slope of a line. Your explanation was easy to follow and cleared 
up my confusion. I really appreciated you taking the time to answer. 
Thank you, Caroline


Well folks, that's all for this month! Thanks to all doctors for the 
time you put into Dr. Math. Have a good September!

Stacey (Dr. Stacey) Bearden
Doctor Math Administrator
The Math Forum