Field Guide to Math on the National Mall

For anyone visiting my old stomping grounds of Washington, D.C., this summer, the Mathematical Association of America has compiled its Field Guide to Math on the National Mall. For example:

Washington, D.C., was planned around a large right triangle, with the White House at the triangle’s northern vertex and the U.S. Capitol at its eastern vertex, linked by Pennsylvania Avenue (as the hypotenuse). A 1793 survey established the location of the triangle’s 90° vertex, and Thomas Jefferson, when he was Secretary of State, had a wooden post installed to mark the spot. This post was replaced in 1804 by a more substantial marker, which came to be known as the Jefferson Pier.

Clowns and Graphing Rational Functions

I thought I had heard every silly mnemonic device for remembering mathematical formulas, but I recently heard a new one: the clowns BOBO, BOTU, and BETC for remembering how to graph rational functions.

  • BOB0: bigger (exponent) on bottom, x = 0
  • BOTU: bigger on top, undefined
  • BETC: bottom equals top eponent, coefficients (i.e., the ratio of coefficients)

Which naturally leads to this pearl of wisdom: