Do you use mixed fractions?

I’m at the MATRIX conference in Leeds, where I’ve just been talking to Adam Atkinson. He told me that he’s trying to compile a definitive list of countries that don’t use mixed fractions.

Here’s a mixed fraction: $2 \frac{2}{3}$
And here’s a non-mixed fraction: $\frac{8}{3}$
Actually, here’s an interesting fact about that number: $2 \sqrt{ \frac{2}{3} } = \sqrt{ 2 \frac{2}{3} }$
This only makes sense if you believe in mixed fractions (and unicode character U+2062, “invisible times”)

This is going to be one of those wipe-your-bum-standing-up situations: it’s entirely possible that you can be on either side of this divide and not know the other exists. Apparently, in some countries mixed fractions just don’t exist: an integer written next to a fraction is incorrect.

So, to help Adam on his way, I thought I’d start another in our long-running series of Aperiodical Surveys. Please tell us where you live, and if mixed fractions are OK in your book.

In an idle moment of wondering, I asked a simple question on Twitter:

The response was overwhelming. Here’s a guide to the non-existent number crunchers you should know about, and some you probably already do.

We’re Stuck! Help develop mathematical theatre

Just when you thought you’d seen enough mathematical theatre projects, here’s another one. We’re Stuck! is an Arts Council funded piece of interactive theatre aimed at children aged 7-12 and their families. The project will explore the idea that getting stuck is part of doing maths, and not something to be feared. The aim is to promote the idea of persisting with maths, even when it’s difficult – and they’re looking for your help!

Monthly MathsJams – November 2012 Survey Data

Those of you with long, long memories (and who attend a MathsJam) may recall that back in November 2012, MathsJam HQ sent out a questionnaire to monthly regional meetups, with various questions about attendance and ping-pong balls. The purpose of the survey was to get a snapshot of what the monthly MathsJams are like, as well as to produce some spurious graphs. Christian and I, who run the Newcastle and Manchester MathsJams respectively, were tasked with analysing the data. Here are our findings!

Your help needed: survey of international mathematical cultures

Dr Aiping Xu of Coventry University is asking staff who have experience of mathematics education in the UK and other countries to complete a short questionnaire as part of a survey of international mathematical cultures for the Higher Education Academy. The questionnaire explains the purpose of the study.

A growing number of international students study mathematics at UK universities. Although mathematics itself may be the same the world over, the subject is learnt within a cultural setting and different countries have different mathematical cultures. The purpose of this project is to try to identify key ways in which the mathematical culture of other countries differs from that in the UK, so that both academic staff and students can be made more aware of these differences and so that appropriate induction can be provided.

I am told the questionnaire should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.

Take the survey: Investigation of international mathematical cultures.

Can you do long division? And other questions we’d like answers to.

Do you know how to do long division? I don’t. Prompted by an annoying article I saw, I’d like to know how many people do know how to do long division.

So this is as good an opportunity as any to use a side-project I’ve been working on recently, which I’ve called The Aperiodical’s Mathematical Survey. I’ve asked quite a few questions like the above here or on Twitter, so I thought it would be a good idea to do something systematic about collecting answers to them.

At the moment, I’ve put up a few questions that occurred to me off the top of my head, such as what’s your favourite number?, how do you write the letter $x$?, and of course, can you do long division?

I hope that if I leave the site running long enough, people will drop in and answer questions every now and then. If we get enough answers I’ll do some Science on the responses, otherwise I’ll just have to do some uninformed Punditry instead.

Please go to The Aperiodical’s Mathematical Survey site and answer a question or two.

Good Practice Scheme to support women in mathematics

The London Mathematical Society (LMS) have developed a “Good Practice Scheme” which aims to help university mathematics departments “to take practical actions to improve the participation of women and to share examples of good practice with other departments.”