CJJ
March 7, 2010, 5:02am
#21

Bytegeist:

I suspect that grade-school math teachers — who have to check all that homework, remember, after it’s turned in — would prefer their students’ answers look more or less the same. If there are two or three or nine valid expressions for the same solution, that’s more wear and tear on the teacher’s brain when he’s grading.

But I’ve never asked a math teacher about it. That’s just my conjecture.

I wonder if it’s a holdover from the days when numerical values were calculated on paper or with a slide rule. If you don’t have a calculator, isn’t it substantially quicker to, say, compute a figure when the radical is in the numerator as opposed to the denominator?

CJJ:

I wonder if it’s a holdover from the days when numerical values were calculated on paper or with a slide rule. If you don’t have a calculator, isn’t it substantially quicker to, say, compute a figure when the radical is in the numerator as opposed to the denominator?

This is more or less how it was explained to me by someone who was around when slide rules were still essential.