Mathochism: Fighting indigestion

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

Under the compass of Damocles We’ve run across the sandwich theorem again. While I enjoyed it a lot the first time, and it felt quite intuitive, I am now as wary of it as I am of tuna salad on a 110-degree day.

That is because the very simple explanation feels a lot trickier in actual practice. And the book’s problems are no less befuddling this time around. I was able to find a kickass online function grapher (thanks, kind commenter who supplied it!), and by putting in the f(x) function, and the g(x) and h(x) functions that serve as the sandwich bread, I can see the magic.

But when it’s just an equation? Well, not so much.

The Calc Professor did her best to explain it, and demonstrated with a not necessarily easy problem. She also made a not-so-hidden jab at the textbook, which I appreciated.

My faith in her is still cautiously optimistic. Unlike the Calc Dementor, I get the vibe that she really is rooting for us to learn, and I’m grateful. Gratitude aside, though, I’m having trouble bridging the gap between the simple concept/obvious picture and the complicated function/necessary strategy. The leftover anxiety from last semester doesn’t help.

Idle query: Would it be possible to sue the Calc Dementor for erosion of confidence? And have the court force him to pay for therapy?

Okay, enough of that! I am pleased to report my limit evaluating skills are much sharper this time around. I got most of the homework problems right on the first try, and only fumbled on a synthetic division application. It’s been a while!

I’m hoping that, with some deep breaths and maybe a bit of tutoring, I can whip up a tasty sandwich theorem or two. Can anyone out there suggest a good math digestif?

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

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