In this series, I’m compiling some of the quips and one-liners that I’ll use with my students to hopefully make my lessons more memorable for them.

One of the basic notions of functions that’s taught in Precalculus and in Discrete Mathematics is the notion of an inverse function: if is a one-to-one and onto function, then there is an inverse function so that

for all and

for all .

If , this is commonly taught in high school as a function that satisfies the horizontal line test.

In other words, if the function is applied to , the result is . When the inverse function is applied to that, the answer is the original number . Therefore, I’ll tell my class, “By applying the function , we uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-undo it.”

If I have a few country music fans in the class, this always generates a bit of a laugh.

See also the amazing duet with Carrie Underwood and Steven Tyler at the 2011 ACM awards:

I'm a Professor of Mathematics and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of North Texas. For eight years, I was co-director of Teach North Texas, UNT's program for preparing secondary teachers of mathematics and science.
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