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Re: [CALCREFORM:3147] Re: Again, with EMPHASIS
Posted:
Sep 21, 2004 11:26 AM


On Mon, 11 Dec 1995 nstahl@uwcmail.uwc.edu wrote:
> On 12/11/96  Mark (bridger@neu.edu) wrote: > I might add that the Harvard Consortium materials represent a > step backward in the notation and discussion of function. The > book begins with the absolutely worst definition of function > I have ever seen, and uniformly writes things like "Let P = > e^{3t} denote population at time t." (Not even P(t).) > > I have to disagree with that comment. I sincerely wish more texts > would use variable notation like that given above. One of the bad > things we often do in calculus courses is to only use function notation.
I heartily agree. Once again I must emphasize that in the hands of a poor instructor, either notation is a dangerous thing. It is very naive to think that notational innovations can substitute for careful language. I agree that if there is an improved notation we can all agree on, and to which the entire discipline is willing to turn, that we should introduce it to the students. But function notation is not the answer to every difficulty with teaching calculus. Rather, it can sometimes stand in the way of understanding. IMO, a judicious mixture of the functional notation and variable notation is the best.
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