Why do analogies work so well? They’re building blocks for our thoughts, written in the associative language of our brains.
At first, I thought analogies had to be perfect models of the idea they explained. Nope.
“All models are wrong, but some are useful” – George Box
Analogies are handles to grasp a larger, more slippery idea.... Read article
I’ve just added a new feature to the site: an Aha / FAQ section for each article.
You can add an aha! moment or question, and vote / discuss them individually. This extends aha.betterexplained.com, making mini-posts for key ideas in an article.... Read article
How do you wish the derivative was explained to you? Here's my take.
Psst! The derivative is the heart of calculus, buried inside this definition:
But what does it mean?
Let's say I gave you a magic newspaper that listed the daily stock market changes for the next few years (+1% Monday, -2% Tuesday...).... Read article
I see the dot product as directional multiplication. But multiplication goes beyond repeated counting: it’s applying the essence of one item to another.
Normal multiplication combines growth rates: “3 x 4″ can mean “Take your 3x growth and make it 4x larger (i.e., 12x)”.... Read article
Logarithms are everywhere. Ever use any of the following phrases?
- 6 figures
- Double digits
- Order of magnitude
You're describing numbers in terms of their powers of 10 -- a logarithm. Ever mention an interest rate or rate of return? It's the logarithm of your growth.... Read article
Hi all, I wanted to announce that Math, Better Explained is available on the Kindle store!
If you’re looking for a digital gift this holiday season, I know just the ticket ;).
A lot of work was done to convert the original PDF but keep the image and equation formatting the same, and readable on eInk and color screens.... Read article
My favorite analogies explain a thought and help you explore deeper truths. Here’s a metaphor that captures my stance on learning:
- Rote details are arrows, intuition is the bow.
Our goal is to hunt down problems. You can use arrows alone, sure, but intuition is the framework that makes details astoundingly useful.... Read article
The Pythagorean Theorem shows how strange our concept of distance is. Using the rule a2 + b2 = c2, we can trade some “a” to get more “b”.
means “A 13-inch pizza equals a 13-inch pizza”.... Read article
After a few years, I thought it was time for a new layout. The goals:
- Be warm & friendly
- Be clean & readable (more whitespace & larger fonts)
- Be easy to skim & search (search results and posts have image previews)
BetterExplained isn’t an authority lecturing you on facts: it’s an excited friend sharing what actually helped when learning.... Read article
Seeing imaginary numbers as rotations was one of my favorite aha moments:
i, the square root of -1, is a number in a different dimension! Once that clicks, we can use multiplication to “combine” rotations of two complex numbers:
Yowza, did that ever blow my mind: add angles without sine or cosine!... Read article
I’ve made aha.betterexplained.com to share aha! moments. In 3 words, “Twitter meets Wikipedia”.
Writing articles hurts: research, collect thoughts, organize, filter the best, and write. This takes 20+ hours, and most articles languish half-done.
People don’t share “Ah, I get it!” moments on Wikipedia — that’s not its goal.
... Read article
Sine waves confused me. Yes, I can mumble "SOH CAH TOA" and draw lines within triangles. But what does it mean?
I was stuck thinking sine had to be extracted from other shapes. A quick analogy:
You: Geometry is about shapes, lines, and so on.
... Read article