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ERIC Number: EJ851898
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Aug
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5769
The Problem with the Snack Food Problem
Szydlik, Stephen D.
Mathematics Teacher, v103 n1 p18-25 Aug 2009
Early in their introductory college linear algebra class, the author's students learn to use a matrix to represent and solve systems of linear equations. Indeed, this simple idea is perhaps the foundational idea of the course. Nevertheless, the author was delighted to find that the study of linear systems can lead to surprisingly deep mathematics. In this article, the author describes a real-life class activity called the Snack Food problem that seemed innocuous enough but presented unexpected challenges. Indeed, what began as an apparently straightforward exercise in setting up and solving a system of linear equations became an exploration of issues in numerical analysis, including error analysis and stability in such systems. (Contains 3 tables and 5 figures.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A