
Re: Please remind me why 3^2 = 9
Posted:
Oct 18, 2012 7:04 AM



It's a convention. In a case like that, one really ought to use parentheses to make the meaning clear, since a lot of people, not just youngsters, will get confused.
If one intends to say (3)*(3), then write (3)^2. If one means  (3)*(3), then write  (3^2).
Writing 3^2 is simply asking for confusion. Guy Brandenburg, Washington, DC http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/ http://home.earthlink.net/~gfbranden/GFB_Home_Page.html ============================
________________________________ From: "john.peterson20@comcast.net" <john.peterson20@comcast.net> To: Philip Mahler <mahlerp@middlesex.mass.edu> Cc: mathedcc <mathedcc@mathforum.org> Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 6:05 AM Subject: Re: Please remind me why 3^2 = 9
Phil,
3 means 1 x 3, so 3^2 is (1)(3^2) = (1)(9) = 9.
John Peterson
________________________________ From: "Philip Mahler" <mahlerp@middlesex.mass.edu> To: "mathedcc" <mathedcc@mathforum.org> Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 5:37:07 AM Subject: Please remind me why 3^2 = 9
Please remind me why 3^2 = 9 I have been teaching a long time, and I know from experience that 50% of students will tell me that ?3^2 = +9 on a test or a final, despite having discussed it a few times in a course.
When I first started teaching I taught calculus and precalc. Piece of cake. Then I started with an Algebra I class and couldn?t connect at all for the first week or so. I was ready to believe I couldn?t teach. I simply could not explain how I got the right answers when evaluating expressions... Then I discovered the order of operations (PEMDAS to some). A definition of the order of operations which I had so internalized that I didn?t know there was a rule for it. Since that discovery I?ve been a wonderful teacher. :)
So... I must be missing something that so many of my students think ?3^2 is +9. What is the rule I have never discovered?
Full disclosure: I think ?k^2, k a constant, should be banned from mathematics texts and tests. x^2, x a variable, evaluated for say ?3, absolutely (no pun intended) but not ?3^2.
Phil

