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Friday
Nov182011

Be Thankful for the Chain Rule

Long ago, in the early days of American history, a hearty band of pilgrims landed firmly on Plymouth Rock for two reasons: (1) they sought religious freedom, and (2) they mistimed their jumps, originally aiming for Plymouth Soft Sand and getting a nasty lump on their foreheads as a result. (See last week's My First Cliff Diving Kit for more information, or visit your local library.)

These days we celebrate the seafaring and clumsy spirit of those pilgrims by gathering family together and calcuating derivatives. Enjoy this gravy-soaked chain rule Problem of the Week, and we'll see you in two weeks, after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Saturday
Nov122011

Diving into Rates of Change

Image by John O'NolanEvery holiday season, there's one toy every child yearns for, the hot toy of the year that's in short supply but high demand. In ages past, Cabbage Patch Kids, Furbies, and Tickle Me Elmos topped the sales charts, but not this year. No sir (or madam, as the case may be).

In the new Problem of the Week, we announce this year's must have toy: My First Cliff Diving Kit! You'll be the talk of the town as you plummet from astronomical heights, narrowly dodging razor-sharp rocks, and land in water less than four feet deep. The only thing you'll be tickling is your fancy (or the side of the hospital bed in a desperate request for additional painkillers because you forgot to calculate for wind on your most recent dive).

Friday
Nov042011

Getting Graphic with Derivatives

In a shameless attempt to increase our ratings during sweeps month, the new Problem of the Week is pretty graphic, so we feel it necessary to warn you ahead of time. If you are upset by scenes of graphic functions and their derivatives, or if there are any young mathematicians among you, you may want to turn away from your computer screen now.

Saturday
Oct292011

Up Pasture Bed Time

Image: federico stevanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.netAre you a farmer who needs to fence in a rectangular plot of land that is bounded on one side by a river, but only plans to buy fence for the non-river sides because your cows aren't strong swimmers? I know what you're thinking. "Of course I am!" Thought so. I wrote the new Problem of the Week just for you, math/cow farmer.

Friday
Oct212011

Revenge of Table Derivatives

 

If you liked the last Problem of the Week, which asked you to calculate the derivatives of functions defined by a table, then you are gonna love this week's Problem of the Week, the Revenge of Table Derivatives. Why? Instead of two functions, you're looking at four--count 'em FOUR--functions in the table. Enjoy.