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Topic: Math Word Problem
Replies: 1   Last Post: Jun 1, 2005 11:33 AM

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Posts: 13
Registered: 1/25/05
Re: Math Word Problem
Posted: Jun 1, 2005 11:33 AM
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Guess Who,

I agree about the original poster being a troll and I was planning
to post a caveat. He posts from a gmail account rather than a
K-12 email account. He has never posted on a teachers' newsgroup
before. His other Internet posts ( seem
to be almost exclusively nerdy 18 year-old tech talk. He purports
to have been a gifted 4th grade writer, yet few of his newsgroup
messages would appear to be written by a gifted writer. Etc.

And, of course, the original post was total BS. There certainly is
no group of 4th graders who can solve any word problem and there
certainly isn't any teacher assigned to gifted 4th grade math &
science students who isn't bright enough to quickly come up with
hundreds of word problems which would totally baffle the little kiddies.
Consider a very typical word problem in first order differential equations,
which would be presented to first year math & science college students:

A container holds 100 gallons of 90/10 mixture of water/alcohol.
A 50/50 solution of water/alcohol is added at the rate of 8 gallons
per minute while the tank is simultaneously being drained at the
rate of 10 gallons per minute. What is the alcohol content of the
tank after 10 minutes, assuming continuous stirring of the tank
contents during those 10 minutes?

This problem is well beyond the scope for any group of gifted 4th
graders (or most adults) and yet there are word problems which are
orders of magnitude more difficult.

Consider a problem from both philosophy and math:
Humans are intrinsically rational creatures, yet many participate
in lotteries, raffles and/or casino games in which basic game
theory indicates that participation is "non-rational."
1) Analyze and explain this apparent irrational behavior.
2) Defend the premise that humans are rational while also
defending traditional game theory axioms.
3) Discuss the fallacy that gaming rewards and losses have
linear utility values. Support your thesis by analyzing
the utility value of money, which, under casual observation,
appears to be obviously linear.
4) Using non-linear utility values for money in conjunction with
intangible utility values, illustrate how participating in a casino
game and attending a movie at a theater are possibly
analogous - both are examples of "non zero-sum games" in
which all participants, including the operators, appear to "win."

This second question appears to be more of an essay assignment
rather than a math or science word problem. But it really is a math-
oriented word problem and any reasonable answer will involve considerable

The original poster is an obvious troll. On the other hand, sometimes
trolls stimulate some interesting discussions.


FYI: Since the 60's, game theory has explained very well why humans
behave in many non-rational behaviors such as casino gambling. On the
other hand, nothing but a "stupidity gene theory" can explain many other
human behaviors.


Guess who wrote in message ...

On Tue, 31 May 2005 20:05:11 GMT, "Gideon" <> wrote:

>"Graduate students of physics and the like" most certainly do
>work on word problems. I spent some time in the past working
>in a research physics lab. Every research assignment I received
>was a "word problem."

>> Does anybody know a math word problem that it would be impossible
>> for a fourth grader to figure out. I am a teacher in the gifted and
>> talented program in my school and I teach smart fourth graders. I had
>> to resort to placing particle physics in my lesson plans to get them
>> stumped.

The point of fact is that it was a troll, and he seems to have been
imminently successful getting people to respond, hook, line and
sinker. There is no way in H... that he has 4th graders understanding
string theory. He doesn't understand it himself. Or, perhaps he's
just setting up a satirical discussion on the concept of "gifted"
students, which is also fair game.

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