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Topic: Order of operations (fwd)
Replies: 12   Last Post: May 15, 1995 11:58 PM

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Tad Watanabe

Posts: 442
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Order of operations (fwd)
Posted: May 14, 1995 1:28 PM
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I think this is a very interesting question students (and teachers)
should investigate. Some of the replies offered I read seem to be a
little circular. I think even if we go left to right, knowing *that*
order of operation would be imperative in doing spreadsheet etc. As far
as some properties being not valid if we don't use the current rule, it's
rather a strange idea to me. The properties we are talking about are
properties of operations, and mathematical operations are abstract ideas
that are not tied down to a symbols system we use. Multiplication is
commutative no matter how we write it. It just looks strange to our eyes
because we are not used to seeing it that way.

Whether or not we go straight left to right or use the rule that we have
is not going to make any significant diffenrece in matheamtics itself,
IMHO. I think one is probably much more simpler and efficient than the
other, but I don't see any reason why we cannot go left to right
[although I agree with Harvey Becker that we probably need the agreement
on doing inside parenthses first.

* Tad Watanabe e-mail *
* Dept. of Mathematics *
* Towson State University watanabe-t@towsonvx.bitnet *
* Towson, MD 21204 *
* (410) 830 - 3585 (410) 830 - 4149 FAX *

On Sat, 13 May 1995 wrote:

> <Here's a question that a student asked that has prompted an interesting
> discussion among our math teachers. He said, "Can you give me an 'everyday,
> real-life' example of where I would need to use the 'order of operations'
> that you're teaching us?">
> Many calculators and all computer use the order of operations. When planning
> spreadsheets or doing any programming, knowing the order of operations would
> be imparitive.
> < Isn't it possible that we COULD agree to do our math IN ORDER from
> left-to-right, as long as we all agree to that?>
> We would have major problems if we did this. The properties we use (i.e.
> associative, communitative, distributive, etc.) would no longer be valid.
> Simply changing the order of the numbers being computed would change the
> value of the number sentence.
> Shari
> - Math Educational Author/Editor

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