Transition Time

As we come to the end of an academic year and look to a new one, it will be a time of change for many students. Perhaps you have completed GCSEs or equivalent qualifications (UK age 15-16) and are about to start on your A Levels or perhaps you have completed those and are about to start studying Mathematics at university.

To be in a position to begin your new courses well you should be thoroughly familiar with the essentials of the work you have studied to date. At whichever level you are studying your Algebra should be at a standard where you can manipulate expressions with ease.

Some resources to help you prepare and will be useful reference material for you during your course…

OCR Transition Algebra Fractions

OCR – Bridging the Gap – A Student Guide

For students going on to A Level then the best thing you could do is use OCR’s brilliant guide for students Bridging the gap between GCSE and AS/A Level Mathematics – A Student Guide. With sections on Algebra, Trigonometry and graphs including examples, question practice on key topics and suggested reading before starting the A Level this is so valuable for students.

You may also find these GCSE revision resources useful. The takeaways are really useful and Mohammed Ladak has picked out Transition Takeaways specifically chosen to help with A Level Maths preparation.

You could also look at Step Up to A Level Maths from The Centre of Innovation in Mathematics Teaching which helpfully lists skills you should be confident with and provides resources to support your study of these skills.

As you study your A level (16-18) course you may find some of the material in the section below useful.

For many challenging questions to really get you thinking, try the brilliant Underground Mathematics site.
underground-mathematics

Make sure you have some useful apps on your phone if you don’t have them already. Mathscard app from Loughborough university is free and a handy reference guide of mathematical facts and formulae. Every student should have the Desmos app (free) and you could also get the  WolframAlpha app (low cost).

Sign up to Brilliant and follow them on Facebook so Maths problems appear in your stream and hopefully distract you from trivia!


If you are preparing for university, then make sure your A Level knowledge is secure – perhaps check the Algebra Refresher from The Mathcentre which has many questions and the answers are at the end of the document. The The Mathcentre has an extensive collection of helpful resources for students of Mathematics.

Calculus workbook from Plymouth University

Carom MathsFor a collection of forty mathematics activities bridging between A Level and University, try Carom Maths from Jonny Griffiths.

Check the List of Activities, how much do you know about Inequalities for example? For a complete PowerPoint with information and questions on Inequalities, choose Carom 1-2: Inequalities.

For older students AJ Hobson’s Just the Maths (individual pdfs hosted by UEA) (or a complete pdf from the Math Centre:   AJ Hobson’s ‘Just the Maths’is very useful as is the excellent Math Centre site which includes extensive resources. The quick reference leaflets which are available on numerous topics are very clearly written and succinct, see these for example on the Product Rule and the Quotient Rule. There are also teach yourself booklets, revision booklets, videos and diagnostic tests. See also these very clear notes with exercises from Plymouth University. There are many free courses available from The Open University and MIT .

The HELM Project. If you have not come across the HELM Project before, the project was designed to support the mathematical education of engineering students and includes an extensive collection of notes which include clear worked examples. You can see on the list that a very small number of titles are ‘not ready yet’; for the sake of completeness the complete set is hosted by the Open University. To access the Open University resources you will need to create an account (easy and free), this will also give you access to the numerous free online courses.

If you are studying or about to study at university then have a look at Kevin Houston’s ‘How not to get a good mathematics degree‘ and ‘How to get a good mathematics degree‘. He also has provided a pdf file you can download: 10 Ways to Think Like a Mathematician. Kevin Houston works at the University of Leeds in the UK.

From Professor Stephen Chew of Samford university, this series of 5 videos looks at how to get the most out of studying (any subject, not just maths). Part 1 includes ‘beliefs that make you stupid’!
How to get the most out of studying (Part 1),  Part 2,  Part 3 Part 4Part 5

The Open University has several helpful publications for students of Mathematics. Many of these resources would be helpful for students still at school.

From John Kerl – see these excellent tips for mathematical handwriting.

For older students Peter Alfeld wrote this guide on Understanding Mathematics for his students at Utah University.

And finally – check the 11 Commandments of Mathematics!

Wishing Mathematics students everywhere – whatever stage you are at a very successful year.

Famous Equations

Do you have a favourite equation? Peter Alfeld of The University of Utah has a collection he thinks are important or intriguing. My personal favourite, Euler’s identity, is his first on the list.

                    eiπ = -1

For more on beautiful equations try the 17 equations that changed the world on the World Economic Forum where for each equation we have the following information:

  • What does it mean?
  • History
  • Importance
  • Modern use

Or from BBC Earth, have a look at “What is the most beautiful equation?

For UK school age students note the famous equation poster contest from the excellent Maths Careers site. This competition closes on Friday 8th June; winners in each age group will win an Android tablet. There will also be five ‘highly commended’ certificates awarded in each group.

 

 

 

Differential Equations

You can check solutions to Differential Equations using WolframAlpha. The slides here illustrate the syntax for first and second order differential equations. Examples like this and more are available from WolframAlpha: Examples for Differential Equations.

Differential Equations on Slideshare.

Notes and examples on Differential Equations.

 

 

 

Simultaneous Equations

MathisFun Easter Puzzle

MathisFun Easter Puzzle

An Easter puzzle from MathisFun – as an excuse for solving simultaneous equations. We could of course use algebra. Using the notation, h, q and t for the egg Horace wants, the egg with the small square pattern and the egg with the stripey pattern respectively.
We have:
h + 2q      =550 (1)
h + q   +t =600 (2)
—-2q  +t =500 (3)
Subtracting equation (3) from equation (2) gives
h−q=100 (4)

(1)−(4) gives 3q=450 so q=150 and h must be 250 ($2.50).

We could check our solution on WolframAlpha of course:

Select image for WolframAlpha query

Did you know that you can easily invert matrices and solve simultaneous equations using Excel?

Excel sim equations & matrices

Select image for Excel file

Select the image or this link for the Excel file. Excel simultaneous equations

To enter the MINVERSE function in the example above, select cells C7:E9, enter the MINVERSE function as shown then press CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER; similarly to enter the MMULT function in this example, select cells H7:H9, enter the MMULT function as shown and then press CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER. (Using formulae like these demonstrates a neat Excel technique, to learn more see MrExcel on Array Formulae).

Plymouth University notes

Plymouth University workbook

For notes / examples / tutorials on Simultaneous Equations try the mathcentre resources or this workbook from Plymouth University. For more on solving three equations in three unknowns for older students see Simultaneous Linear Equations from AJ Hobson’s ‘Just the Maths’

Since it’s Easter an updated version of the best Easter Eggs of all – from WolframAlpha.

If you want some more puzzles, MathisFun has plenty more, or try some of the puzzles here.

Linear Programming

For Linear Programming there are some excellent ways of using technology to help your learning. This post will look at online utilities from zweigmedia and the use of the Excel Solver.

This example from MEI (MEI Decision 1 Legacy Specimen Paper) will be used to illustrate the use of these tools.

A vet is treating a farm animal. He must provide minimum daily requirements of an antibiotic, a vitamin and a nutrient. He has two types of medicine available, tablets and liquid. The table summarises what the medicines contain and the requirements.
Vet Problem - table
The tablets cost £0.38 each and liquid medicine costs £1 per dose.
The vet wants to find the cheapest way to treat the animal.
We have x as the number of tablets which the vet prescribes per day, and y is the number of doses of liquid medicine, giving us the linear programming problem:
Minimise    0.38x + y
Subject to
3x +   2y   ≥ 18
2x +   4y   ≥ 16
10x + 50y ≥ 100

Firstly we will look at zweigmedia’s Linear Programming Grapher. This is intuitive to use. Note the option to see examples. Fraction mode is selected here.
Selecting Solve gives a clear solution illustrated graphically.

LP vet problem

Linear Programming Grapher – zweigmedia

We see that the optimal solution, if x and y can take any values, is a cost of £3.20,
with x = 20/3 and y = 2/3.

LP Vet Graphical Solution

We could also solve the problem using the Simplex Tool. As well as a solution it is possible to see the simplex tableaus. The Simplex Tool is needed for any problems with more than two variables.
Simplex Tool zweigmedia

If we wish to restrict x and y to integers, we can turn to Excel and use Solver. This allows a choice of making x and y integer or not.

Using the same example, we can set up the problem in Excel.
Vet Problem with Excel Solver is the Excel spreadsheet with annotation to explain the answer report and for full instructions on setting up the spreadsheet, use this file:
Solver Excel to solve LP problems – Colleen Young

Excel Solver

Set up the problem in Excel

and use Solver..

Excel Solver Answer Report

Excel Solver – Answer Report

We could choose to restrict x and y to integers with Solver.
Excel Solver specify integer solution
giving us the solution:
Excel Solver Answer Report Integer

For a further example, this time a maximisation problem from Edexcel have a look at this Excel file, Badges LP Edexcel. Each sheet in the workbook is fully annotated to explain the method.
Edexcel LP Problem Excel Solver
Edexcel LP Problem Excel Solver Graphical Solution

 

 

 

 

 

Casio FX991EX-ClassWiz

Are you getting used to a new ClassWiz calculator?
There are guides, manuals and videos available to help.

On the Casio website, you will find quick guides for Casio Calculators including the ClassWiz.

Classwiz guide

Casio ClassWiz quick guide

You can find an excellent calculator guide for the Casio FX991EX-ClassWiz on Dr Frost’s site.
Calculator Guide Dr Frost

For the complete manual from Casio see this page, note the calculator is listed under fx-570EX / fx-911EX on the Casio manuals page.

From The Calculator Guide on YouTube see this comprehensive playlist on the Casio Classwiz fx-99EX. For example see this introductory video on using Statistics mode to find the mean, variance and other statistical summary data.

Other examples include further statistical videos such as Normal Distribution calculations, integration and differential calculations and using Complex mode.

Matrix Calculations.

Correlation and Regression

Some useful resources to help you study Correlation and Regression.

This GeoGebra applet allows you to move points and watch the effect on the line of best fit.

geogebra-correlation

Why not try to plot the points, draw a lines of best fit and then compare your line with the computer. This works very well on a phone, use this link.

Correlation coefficients and lines of best fit can also be studies with this PhET simulation on Least Squares Regression.
correlation-line-of-best-fit PhET

Choose from a range of examples or choose Custom to add your own points and guess then check the correlation coefficient. You can also draw your own line of best fit and compare it to the theoretical line of best fit. Note the option to include residuals for both your own attempt and the line of best fit.


We can check Regression Calculations using this Linear Regression calculator from Social Science Statistics.
linear-regression

On the subject of correlation coefficients, we can play a game to see how well we can guess the correlation coefficient! Guess the Correlation Coefficient.
guess-the-correlation

From Cambridge PhD student, Omar Wagih ‘Guess the Correlation‘, a rather addictive game with a purpose – Omar Wagih is collecting the data on the guesses collected and using it to analyse how we perceive correlations in scatter plots. Select About to read the rules and further details.


For ranked data you must be able to calculate Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient from raw data or summary statistics. Again, Social Science Statistics, offers us a calculator which is useful for checking work.
spearmans-rank-calculator

Calculation details provide a useful check on work.
Note Social Science Statistics also has a calculator for calculating the Pearson correlation coefficient.

 

Integration

Firstly for some useful notes and examples on Integration:

Integration notes University of Plymouth

University of Plymouth Notes

(These sources of Notes can all be found on the Notes page.)

You can use Desmos and WolframAlpha to check your work and see some excellent visual representations.

As an example, we can find the total area bounded by f(x) = x4−3x3−4x2+12x, the x-axis, the line x=−1 and the line x=3.

We could use WolframAlpha for a quick check. The visual representation shows clearly that we are dealing with areas above and below the x-axis.
Definite Integral
Scrolling down the page we see that this query also returns the indefinite integral.
Indefinite Integral

For the total shaded area, we can change the limits of the query to evaluate each section.
See Calculus & Analysis for more examples of WolframAlpha queries.

Or we could turn to the excellent Desmos where we can very simply change the limits.
Definite Integration

Definite Integration 2

If you are unfamiliar with Integration with Desmos, turn to Learn Desmos: Integrals.
Note you can explore the graph shown in the video.

We could also look at this introduction to Integration on GeoGebra.
Integration