Monday, May 24, 2021

What does CANCEL mean? -- some poetic wordplay!

      Lawrence "Larry" Lesser is a professor in the Mathematical Sciences Department at the University of Texas in El Paso and a widely published creator of mathy poems.  Here are the opening stanzas of  a poem that appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Teaching for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics (TEEM), a journal of the NCTM affiliate organization TODOS: Mathematics for ALL

 from     ₵AN
      by Lawrence Mark Lesser

      Cancel is from Latin for ‘make like a lattice’,
      like crisscrossed wood fencing
      in our backyard where we safely
      dine with friends,

      or like COVID-caused crossouts
      on calendars--  
      a cancelled appointment (dis-appointment)
      or music event (dis-concerting).

      Teachers don’t like saying ‘cancel’
      lest students get carried away,
      cancelling sixes of 26/65,  
      which does equal two-fifths 

      but it’s ‘cause we multiplied by 1/13 over 1/13,
      another name for one.
      And don’t say we ‘reduced to lowest terms’
      lest students think it shrank.     

      But context factors into when
              cancelling simplifies:
      2/5 is less clear than 26/65  
      for the chance of drawing a black card  
      from a deck augmented by another deck’s diamonds

      while with y = (x² – 1)/(x – 1),
      cancellation reveals
      the whole limit
      at x = 1.
. . .                                         For the rest of this clever mathy poem, follow this link. 

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