Drexel dragonThe Math ForumDonate to the Math Forum



Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by Drexel University or The Math Forum.


Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-teach

Topic: [No Subject]
Replies: 0  

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List  
by way of Eric Sasson

Posts: 28
Registered: 12/4/04
[No Subject]
Posted: Sep 24, 1997 7:09 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

OFFICE MEMO: Dick Pilgrim
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 1997 16:08:48 -0700
To: math-teach@forum.swarthmore.edu
From: rpilgrim@ucsd.edu (Dick Pilgrim)
Subject: Re: order of operations

I just received a phone call from a middle-school teacher regarding an order of operations question. She was challenged by a parent regarding the correctness of her interpretation of the expression
[80(15) -: 6(10] where -: represents the division symbol - not a fraction bar or backslash. The parentheses are as shown. The teacher was using the textbook (umpteenth edition of Dolciani) convention
we could refer to as PEDMAS

* Date: 19 Sep 97 08:42:10 -0400 (EDT)
* From: Ron Ferguson <rferguso@accdvm.accd.edu>
* Subject: Order of Operations
-----
* I would guess the scheme described in your book is the venerable
* "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiply,
* Divide, Add, Subtract) where each unpunctuated operation is done left
* to right before the next operation is done.

The parent insisted that the correct result is 20 while the teacher used 2000 as the result. My interpretation, pre-computer/calculator, leads to 2000 *but* using a TI82/85 and entering as shown
above gives 20 while the entering it as 80*15/6*10 gives 2000.

Due to a hectic beginning of classes, I just got to the last two days digest of math-teach this afternoon right after our conversation. It looks as though we need to either more carefully define our
order of operations 'rules' or, more reasonably, be careful about punctuation in expressions to avoid ambiguity. The reason I say "more reasonably" is that perhaps this will lead some textbook
authors of beginning algebra books to eliminate the "god-awful' expressions invented only to trip up students.

Dick Pilgrim

---------------
Dick Pilgrim
Mathematics Diagnostic Testing Project
University of California, San Diego
rpilgrim@ucsd.edu Ph: (619)534-3298 Fax: (619)534-1011
"Be well, do good work, and stay in touch" Garrison Keillor
---------------






Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© Drexel University 1994-2014. All Rights Reserved.
The Math Forum is a research and educational enterprise of the Drexel University School of Education.