Mathochism: Calculus sandwich

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

Anyone who has been around the blogosphere has likely noticed that women who blog are often bullied with the phrase “go make me a sandwich” (or, more often, a “sammich” because sandwich is too hard to say, or spell, or something). As in, women don’t belong on the Internet, with their annoying thoughts and opinions, they should be making sandwiches for the dudes on the Internet instead.

Yeah — no. But I might be persuaded to make a sandwich of the math variety.

Today, we continued to study limits, and went over the properties of limits. As long as they exist, you can add them, subtract them, multiply them and divide them. You can also square them, cube them, and take their roots.

I thought these new rules would send me into a befuddled state, but then I shocked myself by getting all 6 of the Calc Prof’s examples right. Woohoo! Don’t limit me, bitchez!

Then, we got to the Sandwich Theorem.
“You could call it that if you’re hungry,” the Calc Professor said, adding that he likes to call it the Squeeze Theorem.

The food writer in me, however, cannot call it anything but the Sandwich Theorem, from here to infinity. And the linguist in me wonders if the Italians call it il teorema dell’ panino.

The Sandwich Theorem is one of those extremely obvious concepts you can only see as obvious in a graph. You take three functions like f(x), g(x) and h(x). If h(x) is in-between f(x) and g(x), and f(x) and g(x) have the same limit, then h(x) has it too.

In this case, the sandwich is defined not by its filling, but by its bread. It’s a hoagie, whether it has tuna or salami in it. It’s a croissantwich, whether the filling is chicken salad or Nutella.

Okay, now I’m getting hungry.

A final note, and then I’m going to go fix dinner: I am starting to see why we were required to take geometry now. Sure, we were all over special triangles in trig, but the Calc Professor is now using If .. Then statements. We’ve gone back to deductive reasoning! And proofs!

And yes, the Sandwich Theorem’s graph was deliciously intuitive. Now, let’s hope, as calculus continues, that this theorem remains digestible.

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.

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