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Sunday, September 18, 2005
  Too late for me, but hopefully my kids will be spared.
New trigonometry is a sign of the times: "Dr Wildberger has replaced traditional ideas of angles and distance with new concepts called 'spread' and 'quadrance'.

These new concepts mean that trigonometric problems can be done with algebra,' says Wildberger, an associate professor of mathematics at UNSW.

'Rational trigonometry replaces sines, cosines, tangents and a host of other trigonometric functions with elementary arithmetic.'

'For the past two thousand years we have relied on the false assumptions that distance is the best way to measure the separation of two points, and that angle is the best way to measure the separation of two lines.

'So teachers have resigned themselves to teaching students about circles and pi and complicated trigonometric functions that relate circular arc lengths to x and y projections – all in order to analyse triangles. No wonder students are left scratching their heads,' he says.

'But with no alternative to the classical framework, each year millions of students memorise the formulas, pass or fail the tests, and then promptly forget the unpleasant experience.

'And we mathematicians wonder why so many people view our beautiful subject with distaste bordering on hostility. "
 
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