See also the
Dr. Math FAQ:
why study math?
3D and higher
Browse Middle School About Math
Stars indicate particularly interesting answers or
good places to begin browsing.
Selected answers to common questions:
Art and mathematics.
Law and mathematics.
Medicine and mathematics.
Music and mathematics.
Poetry and mathematics.
What is mathematics?
Was math invented or discovered?
- About Basic Geometry [10/14/1998]
Who developed basic geometry? What is it used for? Who uses it?
- Art and Mathematics [2/8/1996]
Do you know ways that art can be linked to mathematics?
- Definition of Opposite Sides [01/18/2001]
What is the formal definition of 'opposite sides' of a polygon? Does a
regular pentagon have opposite sides? Does a concave polygon have
opposite sides? How can we define it consistent with our intuition?
- Difference Between Math and Arithmetic [11/06/2001]
My students haven't heard the word arithmetic. No one seems to be able to
tell the difference, if there is one, between arithmetic and mathematics.
Is there a difference, and what is it?
- How Can Math Be Made More Interesting? [08/30/2001]
What can I do to help me be more interested in math?
- Mathematics in the Applied Sciences [02/24/1997]
How do civil engineers and others use math in their work?
- The Number e [6/3/1996]
Is "e" a number like Pi? How does "e" relate to continued fractions?
- Numbers: Cardinal, Ordinal, Nominal? [10/25/1999]
Which group of numbers - cardinal, ordinal or nominal - does "time" fit
into? Are there other types of numbers as well?
- Purpose of Algebra [10/15/1996]
What is the purpose of algebra and who came up with the idea?
- Ten Commandments of Math [07/05/1997]
What are the Ten Commandments of Math?
- The Third Millennium [01/23/2000]
When does the Third Millennium begin? Are there any inherent predictions
or unverifiable assumptions within math?
- What is Calculus? [05/06/1997]
What is calculus and how does it work?
- Why Does Math Need Proofs? [03/24/2000]
Why does math need to have proofs?
- Why Is Math Important? [01/02/2002]
Some of it we don't need to know in the real world, so why do they teach
us things we won't need to know?
- Why Study Practical Geometry? [04/26/1997]
What can I do to help my students to see just how important Geometry and
all Math is?
- Why There are 12 Tones in a Scale [12/28/2000]
Why are there 12 tones in an octave? Can you explain the significance or
the equation r^n = 2^m? Also, what's so special about a fifth? Why should
the scale be based on the fraction 3/2?
- Wording Division Problems [08/10/1998]
How would you clarify the wording of division problems like "divide into"
or "divide by"?
- Year 2000 (Y2K) Problem [07/26/1998]
Can you explain the Year 2000 problem in layman's terms? Why is it so
hard to fix?
- Are Calculators Smart? [06/02/2001]
How come calculators are so smart?
- Are Math Symbols Universal? [05/22/2004]
Do Russian math students use the same math symbols that Americans do?
For example, do they use '+' for addition?
- Are Subtraction and Division Commutative and Associative Operations? [05/15/2008]
I don't agree that subtraction and division are not commutative
operations. If we define a - b as a + (-b), then it commutes correctly
into (-b) + a. So why does everyone say subtraction is not commutative?
- Avoiding Careless Mistakes [01/30/2002]
How can I avoid careless mistakes?
- Careless Mistakes [02/04/2002]
When it asked me for the range, domain, and inverse of ordered pairs, I
just put the inverse because I misread the question...
- Checking Your Work [9/9/1996]
I've had problems keeping myself from making little mistakes like not
putting commas in, putting the decimal point in the wrong place, and
writing down the wrong number... How can I stop doing this?
- Chefs and Algebra [02/05/2002]
I hope to become a chef someday, and I would like to know how algebra
(specifically polynomials, the quadratic formula, factoring, etc.) could
possibly relate to my future career and my life beyond high school.
- Connecting Algebra and Geometry [07/11/2002]
What are the mathematical connections between algebra and geometry?
- The Difference between Science and Mathematics [09/18/2006]
Is there any difference between a science project and a math project?
We have a science fair coming up and I wanted to do some math, but my
friend says that the scientific process is very different from math.
- Doctors and Math [10/27/1998]
How do doctors use math?
- Don't Use Calculators [12/18/2000]
When children should not use calculators to do math.
- Do We Really Need to Learn Math? [11/19/2002]
Why do we need to know math if we can have a calculator do it?
- Estimation in 3rd Grade [12/16/1996]
How do you learn to estimate? What is its importance?
- Etymology of the Word Mathematics [12/10/2001]
Why do you call maths maths?
- The Fairness of Democracy [09/16/1998]
What are some ideas to think about with regard to the fairness of
- Help in Studying for Math [08/17/1999]
I was wondering if you had any suggestions or comments that might help me
out a little bit.
- How Do I Learn Basic Math as an Adult? [08/02/2004]
I'm an adult hoping to take a statistics course, but I haven't thought
about math in 20 years and was never very good at it. How can I learn
all those basic things I missed back then?
- How Do Lawyers Use Math? [01/26/2001]
I have to write a two-page paper on how lawyers use math.
- How Many Formulas? [11/25/2002]
How many formulas do you actually have to learn?
- How Numbers Will Change in the Future [10/29/2003]
I'm asking my students to develop new number systems. I was hoping to
show them what other people are speculating about future number
systems, but I was unable to find anything.
- The Importance of Geometry Constructions [12/29/1998]
Why are geometry constructions important? What do we learn from them?
Where have they appeared in math history?
- The Importance of Math [08/23/2000]
Why is math a core subject?