# My Favorite One-Liners: Part 99

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.

Today’s quip is a light-hearted one-liner that I’ll use to lighten the mood when in the middle of a complex calculation, like the following limit problem from calculus:

Let $f(x) = 11-4x$. Find $\delta$ so that $|f(x) - 3| < \epsilon$ whenever $|x-2| < \delta$.

The solution of this problem requires isolating $x$ in the above inequality:

$|(11-4x) - 3| < \epsilon$

$|8-4x| < \epsilon$

$-\epsilon < 8 - 4x < \epsilon$

$-8-\epsilon < -4x < -8 + \epsilon$

At this point, the next step is dividing by $-4$. So, I’ll ask my class,

When we divide by $-4$, what happens to the crocodiles?

This usually gets the desired laugh out of the middle-school rule about how the insatiable “crocodiles” of an inequality always point to the larger quantity, leading to the next step:

$2 + \displaystyle \frac{\epsilon}{4} > x > 2 - \displaystyle \frac{\epsilon}{4}$,

so that

$\delta = \min \left( \left[ 2 + \displaystyle \frac{\epsilon}{4} \right] - 2, 2 - \left[2 - \displaystyle \frac{\epsilon}{4} \right] \right) = \displaystyle \frac{\epsilon}{4}$.

Formally completing the proof requires starting with $|x-2| < \displaystyle \frac{\epsilon}{4}$ and ending with $|f(x) - 3| < \epsilon$.

## 2 thoughts on “My Favorite One-Liners: Part 99”

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.