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The Most Common Errors in Undergraduate Mathematics

The Most Common Errors in Undergraduate Mathematics

This web page describes the errors that I have seen most frequently in undergraduate mathematics, the likely causes of those errors, and their remedies. I am tired of seeing these same old errors over and over again. (I would rather see new, original errors!) I caution my undergraduate students about these errors at the beginning of each semester.   Outline of this web page: ERRORS IN COMMUNICATION, including teacher hostility or arrogance, student shyness, unclear wording, bad handwriting, not reading directions, loss of invisible parentheses, terms lost inside an ellipsis ALGEBRA ERRORS, including sign errors, everything is additive, everything is commutative, undistributed cancellations, dimensional errors CONFUSION ABOUT NOTATION, including idiosyncratic inverses, square roots, order of... Show More


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Mary Martin
Mary Martin (Faculty)
6 years ago

I did not use this in class because I thought it would infuriate my students.  I may go back and test this idea...the material is thorough.  Pedagogically, it is best not to embed wrong ideas by focusing on them.

Time spent reviewing site: 10
dixon (Student)
15 years ago
In reading " The Most Common Errors in Undergraduate Mathematics" is some what
very boring because the auther is telling the reader that there are common
trends the students make in math. On the other hand the site has many example of
the mistakes and corections. That earned three ***.
If you are told by a teacher that you mess up because of common errors then this
site will help you.
Used in course? Yes