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That which we call an identity

I’m grateful to Jemma Sherwood and Rob Low for reading an early draft of this and for their comments thereon. All opinions are, of course, my own.

This post is inspired by something that I see crop up now and again in discussions with other Maths teachers. It usually manifests itself as a rallying cry to use ≡ in place of = in identities and reserve = for equations. My standard response is to mutter something about identities being equations and leave it at that. But in the latest round, Jemma Sherwood challenged me, in the nicest possible way, to explain a bit further. This is that explanation.

Although I’m going to state my case here, I’m well aware that there are different opinions. In matters of opinion, such as this, agreement and disagreement is less important than that all sides think. So if what I write seems to you wrong, that’s fine so long as it makes you think about why you think that it is wrong.

Tessellating Tricurves

Tricurves were introduced to the Aperiodical audience via Tim Lexen‘s posts Bending the Law of Sines, Combining Tricurves, Phantom Tiling, and (joint with Katie Steckles) Making Tricurves. Like Tim and Katie in that last post, when introduced to a new concept I like to play around with it to see it from different perspectives. Tiling is a topic in maths that is near enough to my speciality that I feel I should be able to understand it, but far enough that I don’t feel any pressure to be an expert – perfect conditions for playing with the concepts.