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Singapore Math

Thursday, March 11, 2010


For a few years now, I've secretly been writing mathematical words and terms, to be categorized under a so-called MATHESAURUSI wanted to christen the title A Politically Correct Mathematics Glossary or A Quick-and-Dirty Mathesaurus Dictionary.
Offhand, here's a sample of my irreverent definitions:

  • Abacus A primitive calculator that questionably originates from China. The Japanese version, called the Soroban, claims to be able to perform square and cube roots, as well as differentiation and integration. Unlike the calculator, its batteries last a lifetime. 
  • Actuary One who misuses or abuses statistics to justify the high premiums charged by one's insurance company.

  • AMC Abbreviation for “Australian Mathematical Competitions.” The world’s popular competition, AMC caters for those mathletes who do not qualify for the IMO, but hope to be medalists, nonethelessSee IMO.

  • Boolean Algebra The Arithmetic of “Or” and “And.”

  • Coordinates A way of describing a location on a grid. For instance, the author's e-mail coordinates are: Some common daily use of coordinates are: (a) A cab driver looking for (5, 8), 5th Avenue and 8th Street; (b) Finding a seat in a theatre, say L25 (Row L, Number 25), and the like.

  • Mathophobia Anonymous A gathering of people who pride themselves of their mathematical ineptitude. The members meet clandestinely to avoid being overcharged and conned by unscrupulous agents. 

  • Quadratic Equation A misnomer for naming an equation of degree 2; should be renamed “biratic equation.”

  • Trial-and-Error Method A hit-and-miss approach. The mathematical equivalent for looking for a word in the dictionary.

  • World Wide Web (WWW) Comprises virtual cities of bits; the world of 1s and 0s. A city of bits. A communications medium that encourages gossip, freedom of speech, and gambling; sale of pink pills, yellow literature, blue movies, and so on.

  • NCTM’s Standards An ideal list of guidelines and recommendations for mathematical excellence in K-12 by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, to be implemented in a non-ideal classroom.

  • One-to-one correspondence The most primitive and also the most sophisticated method of counting. Used by farmers to count sheep, and by mathematicians to study different sizes of infinities and to come up with some visual (look-see) proofs.
Would you, readers, be keen to co-author with me the above irreverent guide to relevant mathematical terms? Any takers (friends, fiends or foes) who would be excited by such a general math-lite title? Please direct them to me. 

I couldn't be more serious about this funny title. I think it's going to be exciting to co-write and publish such a MATHESAURUS.

Irreverently yours
K C Yan 

© Yan Kow Cheong, March 11, 2010