Pick a Number Between 0 and 1 — with Fractions!

This applet is a pick a number game, where the secret number is a fraction between 0 and 1. Enter a numerator and denominator and the computer will tell you if your fraction is too high or too low, until you guess the Secret Fraction and win.

Your previous high and low guesses are listed on the page (unless you hide the list), and there is a number line that graphs the guesses. You can change the number of divisions in the number line; the labels update automatically.

The game has several levels. Level 1 uses only fractions with denominators 2, 4, and 8, whereas Level 6 uses denominators from 2 to 16.

The applet doesn’t fit well on the page with my website theme, so you can open a new window and try it here. (Note: if you don’t see a fraction in the pink box, go to the bottom of the page and choose, “View as Java Applet,” which is what I wrote this applet as.  It does not seem to have converted correctly to HTML 5).

This applet was the most challenging to write of all the GeoGebra applets I’ve written to date — I wasn’t sure it was possible to create this game using GeoGebra, so it was quite satisfying when it came together. Here were some of the tricky parts (you can download my original file here):


The Tangent is a Tangent!

In my post Trigonometry Yoga, I discussed how defining sine and cosine as lengths of segments in a unit circle helps develop intuition for these functions.

I learned the circle definitions of sine and cosine in my junior year of high school, in the class that would now be called pre-calculus (it was called “Trig Senior Math”). Two years earlier, I’d learned the triangle definitions of sine, cosine, and tangent in geometry class. I don’t remember any of my teachers ever mentioning a circle definition of the tangent function.

The geometric definition of the tangent function, which predates the triangle definition, is the length of a segment tangent to the unit circle. The tangent really is a tangent! Just as for sine and cosine, this one-variable definition helps develop intuition. Here is the definition, followed by an applet to help you get a feel for it:


\(k^x-x^k\) Slider and \(x^y=y^x\) graph

Use the slider to change the value of k, and to see dynamically how the graph of \(h(x)=k^x-x^k\) changes. Negative values have \(x^k>k^x\). Which value of k gives a graph that is never negative? Why?

Here is a very pretty graph of \(x^y=y^x\) with areas where \(x^y < y^x\) shaded in green and areas where \(x^y > y^x\) shaded in purple.

I am working on an article about some problems related to these equations, including The Biggest Product Problem. There’s a lot of interesting stuff here!

Farey Fraction Visual Patterns

The Farey Sequence, \(F_{n}\) is the list of all simplified fractions between \(\dfrac{0}{1}\) and \(\dfrac{1}{1}\) with denominator less than or equal to \(n\). For example,

  \( \large F_{5}=\dfrac{0}{1},\dfrac{1}{5},\dfrac{1}{4},\dfrac{1}{3},\dfrac{2}{5},\dfrac{1}{2},\dfrac{3}{5},\dfrac{2}{3},\dfrac{3}{4},\dfrac{4}{5},\dfrac{1}{1}\)

Duals of Platonic Solids Videos

After building the model I used to make the Polyhedral Waltz animation, I wanted to use it for other things.  I was particularly interested in trying the scaling feature of the Keyframe Animation plugin that I had not yet used.

One of my colleagues commented on seeing Polyhedral Waltz that the video showed dual polyhedra in a way that was more helpful than a static model, and I thought that with scaling, videos could show duality even better.

A dual is formed from a polyhedron by creating a vertex at the center of each face, and then connecting vertices on adjacent faces. This process is hard for most people to visualize without a model, and even with a static model, it can still seem abstract.

Here are three videos, in the order I made them: cube and octahedron, icosahedron and dodecahedron, and tetrahedra. These videos show pairs of dual polyedra, growing or shrinking one-at-a-time to fit inside or to surround the other. Read more >>