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    • Thread Starter

    Welcome to the Maths Forum!

    Before you post your own questions or help others, there are a few important things you should be aware of. These are in addition to the community guidelines set out by TSR. Please read through this guide before posting on this forum.

    This guide is split up into several sections:

    Where and How to Create Threads
    How To Ask Questions
    How to Answer Questions
    How to format Maths on TSR
    Ambiguous Notation
    Square Roots

    (Many thanks to everyone who has given their input on this guide!)
    • Thread Starter

    Where and How to Create Threads

    There are two forums in this section, Maths, and Maths Exams. The rule for deciding which you should post in is as follows:

    If the question would make sense to someone without specific knowledge about the exam/exam board, then it belongs in Maths.


    Question about how to solve a quadratic equation, with no mention of exam or course. Should go in Maths

    Question about how to solve a quadratic equation that says "Edexcel GCSE" but no specific exam. Should go in Maths

    Question about how to solve the quadratic equation in 2014 June Edexcel GCSE Paper 1. Should go in Maths

    Request for the mark scheme for the quadratic equation in 2014 June Edexcel GCSE Paper 1. Should go in Maths Exams

    Question about entry dates for the 2015 June Edexcel GCSE Paper 1. Should go in Maths Exams

    Make sure your title gives information about what your question is actually about. A title like "Stuck on GCSE Probability Question" is a lot better than "Maths problem, please help". You are required to pick a thread label, e.g. A Level, for your thread; make sure you pick one that is appropriate for your question. Please refrain from using the word urgent in your titles.
    • Thread Starter

    How to Ask Questions

    Even before posting a question, make sure you have made an attempt to answer the question. This attempt could be an almost complete solution, or just some notes on which equations you think you may need. You will only really learn from the help on offer if you have already spent some time on the question.

    When posting, make sure you include your question clearly, with no inaccuracies, and nothing relevant missed out. Post your attempt as well, as helpers are going to use this as the basis to help you. It may be useful to post information about the exact course or qualification you are working towards as well.

    Note that we will not just post an answer to your question, we will offer advice and guidance for you to solve it.

    Important: Please don't send questions requesting academic help to individual members unless invited to do so. The forum is the place for asking them. This can often: generate a faster response; benefit other users; and lead to improved accuracy (others members can pick up on any errors).
    • Thread Starter

    How to Answer Questions

    The aim here is to show the original poster how they can answer the question. There is actually quite a lot of skill and experience involved in doing this well. For example, if they are stuck using a particular method, the ideal is to show them how to get that method to work, not to show them a solution using a completely different technique.

    In general, the best approach is to give small 'nudges' in the right direction. Do not post full solutions.

    Try to remember that people posting here have widely differing experience levels and educational backgrounds. Just because someone has posted what you consider an extremely simple question, it doesn't give you any right to try to make them feel inferior about it.

    By the same token, please try to use common sense when deciding if you can answer a question. If a thread is labelled Postgraduate, or has 15 detailed posts from people at university level with no resolution, it is somewhat unlikely someone studying AS maths will be able to help. That doesn't mean you can't try, but do take the time to read the other posts and check you really understand what's going on before posting anything.
    • Thread Starter

    How to Format Maths on TSR

    There are three common approaches to formatting maths content on TSR:

    Simple Text:
    That is, expressions like (x + 1) / (x + 2), or x^2 + 3x + 5 = 0.

    This is a perfectly acceptable method if you don't need funny symbols. The key thing to be aware of is that many expressions that might be unambiguous when written by hand become ambiguous when typed as plain text in a forum. (See below for information on ambiguous notation)

    Now that almost everyone has a mobile phone, it's the easiest thing in the world to take a photo of your question or working and upload it to the internet. If you choose this method, please make sure that the writing in the photo is clear and easy to read before submitting your post. This includes making sure the photo is oriented correctly.

    LaTeX is a system for typesetting mathematics using normal typed input plus commands. It is very powerful (it is used in professional mathematics typesetting) so using it you can produce equations like:

    \displaystyle \begin{equation*}\int_{-\infty}^\infty \int_{-\infty}^\infty e^{-(x^2+y^2)/2} \, \mathrm{d}x \, \mathrm{d}y = \int_0^\infty \int_0^{2\pi} r e^{-r^2/2} \, \mathrm{d}\theta \, \mathrm{d}r\end{equation*}.

    LaTeX is the preferred method for posting mathematics on TSR. There is a guide on how to use LaTeX here. Alternatively, you may find this website helpful. You type your equation using the text editor, and then copy the code. You can then post it on TSR by following this format: [latex] post code here [/latex].
    • Thread Starter

    Ambiguous Notation

    An example of an ambiguous expression might be: x + 3 / x - 4

    This could mean any of the following:

    \displaystyle \frac{x+3}{x-4}

    \displaystyle x+\frac{3}{x}-4

    \displaystyle x+\frac{3}{x-4}

    The problem can be resolved by carefully using brackets: (x + 3) / (x - 4), or using LaTeX to format.
    • Thread Starter

    Square Roots

    Over the years it has become obvious that a lot of students are confused about square roots. Here is the graph of y=\sqrt x. Note there are no negative values for y.

    When we refer to THE square root of 4 or use the symbols \sqrt{4} or 4^{\frac{1}{2}} the answer is 2.

    The confusion seems to arise from a mixture of dubious teaching and an incomplete understanding of the solution of quadratic equations of the form x^2 =4. There are certainly two solutions to this equation but the intermediate step is is x=\pm \sqrt{4} not x=\sqrt 4.

    The \sqrt symbol does not return positive and negative square roots. If it did then the \pm sign in the quadratic formula would be redundant.

    You may, or may not, be reassured to learn that the authors of the endorsed Edexcel Core 1 textbook are confused about this too.

    Below you can find some previous TSR "debates" on this topic. Please bear in mind that a large number of posts in these threads are wrong so, if you are still confused, you might be best advised to avoid reading them!

Updated: May 7, 2016
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