Author Archives

I am entering my 21st year as a math teacher at Weston High School, the sole public high school in Weston, MA. It’s also my 44th year as a teacher altogether. In addition to my day job, I taught for 20 years at the Saturday Course in Milton, MA. I also teach at Harvard’s Crimson Summer Academy each summer; 2017 was our 14th consecutive summer.

Sometimes I work on educational software. I also read, cook, and continue building my model railroad whenever I can. For some reason I'm left with less so-called free time than would be ideal. Nevertheless, I manage to devote time to my wife, Barbara, and to our excessive number of cats as well.

  • Stunning graphs of equations

    You have got to go look at the Visual Dictionary of Famous Plane Curves and study some of the stunning images that Xah Lee has collected. I particularly recommend his collection of sinusoids and his gallery of graphics based on… Read More ›

  • Beware the Algebrator

    Yes, there really is a product called The Algebrator. Their slogan is, “You Type in Your Homework Problem. Algebrator does the Rest!” Here is an excerpt from one of their ads. What’s wrong with this picture?

  • Too hot to think

    It wasn’t a great day for taking math exams. I opened up the windows and doors in my classroom at 7 AM to get some cross-ventilation, but when the exam started at 7:35 it was already 83 degrees in my… Read More ›

  • Amusing calculus book?

    The pseudonymous Rudbeckia Hirta writes about “the most amusing book ever written about calculus”: The Historical Development of the Calculus, by C.H. Edwards. I know, you don’t think the competition for most amusing calculus book is very stiff, but I’m… Read More ›

  • The TeachScheme conference

    The TeachScheme conference (see my post of 5/22) went very well. Because of some changes in the program, we actually were granted 15 minutes for our talk! I came away with quite a number of interesting ideas, both for the… Read More ›

  • Representations

    Dennis and I were talking about multiple representations. Multiple representations are one of the Big Ideas that wend their way through all our math courses. A table and a graph and a function machine and a mapping diagram are all… Read More ›

  • Awards

    Is Weston High School the only school that gives out too many awards? Probably not. I counted 14 awards for one of our seniors, and 14 for another as well! And, of course, there were hundreds of others for seniors…. Read More ›

  • Numb3rs

    Please read Graham Cormode’s review of the TV show, “Numb3rs” (which he claims is pronounced “Numbthreers” rather than “Numbers”). Brief excerpt: Given low initial expectations, it was probably one of the better attempts to show mathematical topics within the context… Read More ›

  • Literature & math: imaginary gardens with real toads

    This week’s New York Times Book Review contains a fascinating Literary Map of Manhattan, preceded by an explanatory article written by Ethicist Randy Cohen. Quoting Meg Wolitzer, Cohen defines his (their?) “cartographic motto”: a strong sense of specificity, even though… Read More ›

  • What math has taught him

    Sam Hughes is the author of the Venn Diagram cited in my previous post. I also recommend his list of “Things mathematics has taught me”: That there are such things as unanswerable questions — indeed, provably unanswerable questions That Occam’s… Read More ›