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Topic: that long division symbol
Replies: 5   Last Post: Mar 6, 2003 4:15 PM

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Kirby Urner

Posts: 4,709
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: that long division symbol
Posted: Mar 6, 2003 4:15 PM
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victorthecleaner@netscape.net (zach) wrote:

>adstrom@comcast.net (Adam S.) wrote in message

>My MS Word has it under: Insert-->Symbol. I'm using it through a thin
>client server, which I think is the equivalent of Windows2000 or NT.
>Or, I guess I could paste it here and see if google posts it intact.
>Then you might be able to copy/paste it: ÷


That's not the symbol meant. Long division looks like:

________
12 ) 1234

When I taught high school math, I'd often just hand write a
bunch of problems (I have pretty good printing), and run 'em
off on a mimeograph machine (remember those) or a photocopier.

Trying to get real fancy in Word or whatever seemed like
overkill to me.

It's OK for math to look folksy-friendly, like your teacher hand
wrote it. And when you need to use sigmas, greek letters and
all the rest of it -- then it's *really* tempting to just use
a Rolling Writer [tm].

Another option is to write the division problem more how you'd
see it in a more advanced math book:

233/11

i.e. just use the slash. The long division symbol is not really
an operator so much as a diagram to help organize the algorithm.
It's OK to have the *student* draw this as part of solving the
problem, whereas the *question* is posed in terms of a more
typical fraction, with a slanted or horizontal line between
divident and divisor (numerator and denominator).

And you should make it clear how you want your answer. When
we first introduce this algorithm, the remainder gets to be a
free standing integer. Later, it becomes the numerator, with
the divisor as denominator (you lose some kids here), and after
that, you keep dividing by adding .0000.... and getting a
repeating decimal.

As for this symbol: ÷ -- I think it's pretty obscure and should
be de-emphasized. We mostly use slanted or horizontal lines for
division. ÷ goes out of fashion past elementary school. We should
also use * for multiplication more often, as it's quasi-universal
in computer languages. Exponentiation might also be represented
using ^ or **.

Kirby

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