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  • Mark Allen

Math expressions are words, too

Writers often will say they are word people and not math people. And this defeatist pronouncement too often is reflected in their use of simple math. But mathematical expressions are words. They have specific meanings, commonly understood but often ignored in practice.

Most of us have the basic knowledge that allows to check to make sure the mathematical expressions we use hold true in context. If something is “twice as much” as something else, then half of that something also is something else. Right? If I have three apples and you have twice as many, you have six apples. If you give me half your apples and end up with four, we’ve screwed something up.

Don’t ignore the common-sense advice drilled into our heads in high school: Check your work.

This morning’s paper brought a story with more complex math than an e