Solve a Simpler Problem
Date: 09/25/2000 at 23:51:37 From: Marques Hunter Subject: Solve a simpler problem What day of the week is the 3,824th day after Wednesday? Where do I began to solve this? How will figuring out problems like this help me in life?
Date: 09/26/2000 at 09:48:50 From: Doctor Rick Subject: Re: Solve a simpler problem Hi, Marques. I doubt that you will ever need to know what day of the week the 3,824th day after Wednesday falls on. Therefore I wouldn't bother memorizing the answer. It won't even be on the test. The key is in your subject line: "Solve a simpler problem." That is a PROBLEM-SOLVING STRATEGY. You can forget the answer to this problem, and even the particular steps you followed, but if you remember the general strategy, you may well find that it will help you often. This is the purpose of problems like this: to help you learn strategies that will be useful for solving many problems you will encounter in the future (even if you think your job has nothing to do with math). Take a cue from the subject line: think of a simpler but similar problem. How about this? "What day of the week is the 5th day after Wednesday?" This is so simple, you can just look on a calendar. Wednesday is the 27th; count 5 days, and you get to Oct. 2, a Monday. I can guarantee you won't solve the original problem this way. You'd wear out your fingers counting that high. But try counting 26 days on the calendar. Do you notice that every time you count a multiple of 7, you're back on a Wednesday? The 7th day (Oct. 4), 14th day (Oct. 11), and the 21st day (Oct. 18) are all Wednesdays. Well, that makes sense: there are 7 days in a week. But how can you use this fact? After you reach the 21st day, you have how many days left to count? You were at a Wednesday, so what day is the 26th? Now you have a method that can be generalized, so you can use the same method even for admittedly absurd numbers like 3,824. Can you state the generalized method? Can you use it to solve the original problem? When you've done so, write down the answer and forget it. But remember the strategy you used to come up with the solution: - Try a simpler problem of the same type as the original problem. - If it's too simple, try a slightly harder problem, until you can see a method for solving it that can be extended to handle the original problem. - State the generalized method. - Use it to solve the original problem. - Doctor Rick, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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