Can you solve a semi-complex math problem with just pencil and paper?

I’d definitely be screwed without a calculator. I was thinking today, I’m 45 and I have completely forgotten how to add/multiply/divide fractions. I can do simple ones, but 1 and 1/7 multiplied by 2 and 3/16…forget it… I remember it being taught in Junior/Senior math class, I vividly remember it…I just can’t remember how to do it.

I can’t say that I’ve ever needed to know the answer to above question, but I’d at least like to re-teach myself how to do it.

Anyone else incapable of doing any sort of math that does not involve a checkbook?

Jr/Sr math class? That’s on the homework list for my 7th and 8th graders! :eek:

I can’t solve non-complex math problems using a calculator. So a pencil and paper probably won’t help.

Well, maybe not the specific question I mentioned was meant to represent what I learned in High School, it was just an example of something I had forgotten how to do. I do remember taking a very difficult math class (Trig) in high school, and I can’t remember any of that either.


Forgive me if I am being insulting, but I’m flabbergasted by the notion that manipulating fractions is even semi-complex. I thought you were talking about trig or something.

But then I never really stopped doing math after college. I’ve always liked it and I’ve sometimes tutored up to about trig. I wouldn’t want to tackle calculus again without a refresher course, though.

May I ask your approximate age? I’m a little over 40, and we weren’t allowed calculators in my high school math classes. I’m not sure when it changed, though I kinow it has.

I’m 25, a former physics teacher, and yes I can do fractions, multiplication and division of decimals, and even approximating square roots and the common trig function angles without too much trouble. I can do scientific notation manipulation, exponents, and I know my logarithm multiplication, division and power rules. I don’t consider any of this particularly complex, but I could do most of them without a calculator. I could probably do a few simple integrals without a calculator or table… but that’s about my limit.

Not insulted at all. I personally think it’s a bit embarrassing for me to not remember how to do fractions at the age of 45. May I ask how old you are? Could be that it’s still fresh in your mind if you’re in your 20’s. But, If you’re older, then I think you’re in the minority…discounting people who routinely deal with this kind of math on a daily basis.

I’ve been working through the Khan Academy exercises, and I find that very helpful for polishing my rusty math skills. I use a lot of pencil-and-paper!

I’m turning 42 later this year. But as I wrote upthread I like math for its own sake and sometimes tutor algebra, geometry, and occasionally trig. Also my favorite niece does math for fun, and when she was – oh, 12 or so – and visiting my apartment during the summer, she started asking me to give her math puzzles to keep her skills up. We still do that, but I’m sure that now that she’s in college she’s past me skillwise.

No, that’s not the only reason she’s my favorite, but it’s a big one. She once asked to go through my rock and fossil collection, and when I asked why she frowned and said, “Because I am cloning dinosaurs! That’s all you need to know!”

If that kid ever starts loving Tolkien I’m going to have to leave her everything I own. :wink:

Pencil and paper? I just did it in my head.

8/7 * 35/16
8 * 30 = 240
8 * 5 = 40
So the numerator is 280.
Yay, 28 is divisible by 7!
So the answer is 40/16 or 2 1/2.

I prefer to solve math problems with a 12-gauge. They stay solved with a 12-qauge.

even faster, the 7 and 35 cancel out to have 5 on top, the 8 and 16 cancel out to have 2 on the bottom. 5/2 = 2.5

Yes, but I can’t remember how to use my slide rule anymore, so no trig. For most algebra I’m fine with paper and pencil.

Yes, I can.

Obviously, it depends on the definition of “complex.” I’ve forgotten how to do the highest-level math that I studied (differential equations and most of calculus), but I really do try to work out problems in my head or on paper when I have time just to keep my brain in shape. The OP question, I would do in my head. Ditto things like approximating square roots of small numbers (don’t throw me a 13-digit number for that one).

I helped a friend help her daughter with some statics homework the other day. I think that a calculator would have gotten in the way. We did leave the sine and cosine values in the solution, but that’s sort of a standard way of showing the answer.

Yes, if only because they don’t make calculators for what I want to do.

Wah wah wah, Mr. Math Grad Student.

I can do algebra or anything easier than that with a pencil and paper, but don’t remember a single thing about trig. (Graduated from HS 40 years ago, had no math at all in college.)

I’ve got the Mensa Puzzle a Day calendar, and usually solve the math problems as well as the word puzzles, though I’m mostly a word puzzle person.

I’m approximately 11/8ths your age. We weren’t allowed to use calculators in high school math class because of all the noise they would make. But you could learn how to use one in the advanced typing class.

Yeah, I’m no great shakes at arithmetic (give some metamathematics any day, though!), but I had a calculator die on me once in a class and had to pencil-and-paper out some crazy ass square roots with numbers in the millions at least. PITA and it took me forever. Guess I won’t be getting an award for savant any time soon.