This Week’s Installment
What mathematical skill is the textbook trying to teach with this image?
Pseudocontext Saturday #2
- Using properties of symmetry (33%, 134 Votes)
- Calculating the area of quadrilaterals (28%, 114 Votes)
- Completing the square (20%, 80 Votes)
- Identifying rational and irrational numbers (19%, 76 Votes)
Total Voters: 404
(If you’re reading via email or RSS, you’ll need to click through to vote.)
Every Saturday, I post an image from a math textbook. It’s an image that implicitly or explicitly claims that “this is how we use math in the world!”
I post the image without its mathematical connection and offer four possibilities for that connection. One of them is the textbook’s. Three of them are decoys. You guess which connection is real.
After 24 hours, I update the post with the answer. If a plurality of the commenters picks the textbookâ€™s connection, one point goes to Team Commenters. If a plurality picks one of my decoys, one point goes to Team Me. If you submit a mathematical question in the comments about the image that isn’t pseudocontext, collect a personal point.
(See the rationale for this exercise.)
Team Me: 1
Team Commenters: 0
The judges rule this pseudocontext because, given that awesome square maze, it’s very unlikely that anyone would wonder about the side length of the maze and unlikelier still that anyone would wonder if the side length was rational or irrational. An exhaustive search for a 1,225 ft2 square maze in Dallas, TX, produced no results, exacerbating the judges’ sense that the textbook is exploiting the world for the sake of math. That’s pseudocontext.