Vu’s Views: Math at PCS


One day, I got frustrated at a math problem that I should have known how to do. Instead of figuring out how to do it, I wrote this to vent frustration. Then I solved the problem.


Pre Algebra

Welcome to Pre Algebra. We’re going to let “x” be any number, and you have to figure out what it is. It could be anything from 1.3512982 (my GPA) to 450 (my SAT score) or anything between, or beyond. FIND X. NOW. DO IT.


Sample problem:

Solve for x

x = x + 1;

Algebra 1

Now we’re going to add another letter, “y”, just to make you twice as irritated. You can’t just find x and y in the same equation! When you’re done, you’ll still have x’s and y’s! Isn’t math fun!

Sample problem:

Put into y = mx+b form:

7x + 4y = 10

(You don’t see a “b”? Too bad).

Geo— Oh wait. PCS does it backwards. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Algebra 2

Now we’re going to add another letter, “z”, just to make you three times as irritated. We’ve given up on actual answers and numbers, and we’re going to make you solve these nightmarish things called Systems of Equations. You’ll finish with numbers, but it might take a few hours to finish the problem.


Sample problem:

Solve for x, y, and z. You have 30 seconds to complete the task.

3x + 5y + 7z = 8

2x + y   + 9z = 5

3x +        4z = 23 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)


Now you get a bonus letter with Algebra 2 called “i”. It’s an imaginary number (just like my grades). Even though it’s imaginary, you still get a real 0% unless you pass the standards quiz.


Are you prepared to use every single letter in the alphabet? No you aren’t! Now we get to use Greek letters! It’s literally Greek! Here is theta. It’s exactly like a crossed out zero. We use it to represent angles because we (old dead white mathematicians) like Greek! Why don’t we use the letter “a” for angle? Precedent.  


Sample problem:

In a right triangle, with side lengths 3, 4, and 5, what is the measure of the smallest angle?


Do you like writing numbers on straight lines? TOO BAD. Now you have the opportunity to write numbers in little grids, and use more letters! We use “n” and “m” because they look really alike and we want you to get better handwriting. These are called matrices. You also get to graph lines that depend on a hidden variable. These are called parametric equations. No more y = mx + b;


Sample problem:

Sketch: x(t) = sin(t) + t, y(t) = 5t + 7

AP Calculus

Have you scoured the internet for every single possible alphabet possible and memorized all the letters? Guess what? We invented new symbols just for you in calculus! There’s a squiggle that we use for integration. As a general rule of thumb,  integration mean mathematical pain.

Also, we use infinitesimals, which, depending who you ask, are infinitely small, or going very close to zero (also like my test scores).


Sample problem:

(3x^2 + 5)/x

Multivariable Calculus

More Greek. More symbols. More letters. You know the drill.

Sample problem:

Find the length of this arc:

t = [1, 5]

x(t) = sin(t)

y(t) = (3t^2)

z(t) = ln(t)

AP Statistics

More Greek. More symbols. More letters. You know the drill.

Sample problem:

How many people are still reading this?



Pre Algebra question: This is only a valid statement in Java or C++

Algebra 1 question: y = (-7/4)x + (5/2)

Algebra 2 question: x = 403/43, y = -96/43, z = -55/43

Geometry question: 36.87 degrees

PreCalculus: It looks like an upward right squiggle

AP Calculus 5ln(|x|) + (3x^2)/2 + C

Multivariable Calculus: ~72

AP Statistics: ~3% of the original readers