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Mathematics Is Going Green


Supposedly...at least to mathematics teachers, the naming of numbers makes sense: whole numbers, natural numbers, negative numbers, rational numbers, irrational numbers, real numbers, imaginary numbers, and complex numbers. But do these names make sense to students?

For example, consider the student who said a natural number is a number with no preservatives.

As an exercise, whatever your grade level, ask students to define the following terms...I expect it will prove both eye-opening and perhaps humorous.


Define the following mathematical terms using your own words. Even if you have never heard of the term, try to define it:
  • A natural number is:
  • A whole number is:
  • A negative number is:
  • A rational number is:
  • An irrational number is:
  • A real number is:
  • An imaginary number is:
  • A complex number is: