Talk:Square root

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This is an old revision of this page, as edited by RSchlafly (Talk | contribs) at 18:35, 24 April 2007. It may differ significantly from current revision.

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I have commented out part of the text, until I figure out how to generate the radical symbol for roots. Also, it looks like a few basic math files need to be created... Human 16:27, 12 April 2007 (EDT)

like this Jaques 17:46, 12 April 2007 (EDT)


The current article jumps back and forth with concepts. We go from the intro to irrational numbers, then to imaginary numbers, and only then do we get the whole "two square roots per number" and "notation" stuff laid down. Anybody mind if I try to re-arrange some stuff? --Sid 3050 17:43, 12 April 2007 (EDT)

I'll take that as a "No". Going in... --Sid 3050 18:04, 12 April 2007 (EDT)
Done. In my eyes, this is a bit more structured than before. Opinions, edits and expansions welcome, of course. Just my suggestion. --Sid 3050 18:30, 12 April 2007 (EDT)
Thanks, you're right. I think it might need some more copyediting in order to truly "introduce" topics in order of complexity. But at least now the article exists - and is already better than it started. You didn't get a response earlier because you were fixing it about eleven seconds after I saved it ;) Human 19:13, 12 April 2007 (EDT) Oops, reason for strikethrough, it's chaged again for the even better! Human 19:18, 12 April 2007 (EDT)


Wouldn't only all nonzero numbers have two square roots? MountainDew 17:53, 12 April 2007 (EDT)

Cross-checking with Wikipedia (my Calculus books are out of reach at the moment) says that the square roots do not have to be distinct, so . But there are indeed two. --Sid 3050 17:57, 12 April 2007 (EDT)
Whoa, thanks for fixing this thing up so fast, folks! Human 18:06, 12 April 2007 (EDT)

+/- notation deleted?

Why is this:

"As such, the technically correct way of writing is

Being deleted? It is not only correct, it is very important. For instance, the quadratic formula page would need it if the details of completing the square were laid out. Earlier today, Rschlafly removed it, I reverted it back in, and now Jacques has removed it. So let us discuss it here? Human 13:50, 22 April 2007 (EDT)

Hearing no objection or reason, I am putting it back in. Human 01:12, 24 April 2007 (EDT)
I removed it, because it is not technically correct. It is just not true that the quadratic formula page needs it. That page uses a plus-or-minus symbol in front of the square root. It would just need a plus sign, if the plus-or-minus were really technically correct for the square root. RSchlafly 01:37, 24 April 2007 (EDT)
How is it not technically correct? Please explain this new math you're using. ColinRtalk 01:38, 24 April 2007 (EDT)
I gave an explanation. If you don't believe, trying punching 9 and then the square root button on a calculator. RSchlafly 01:56, 24 April 2007 (EDT)
Tell me, what does -3 x -3 equal? Or -2 x -2? Hmmm. ColinRtalk 01:58, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

Excuse me. I'm going to vent. RSchlafly, you are completely wrong. As in, no ideology needed. The square root of 9 is plus or minus 3. The equation shown expresses that clearly. When a square root is taken, the plus or minus becomes required in order to keep track of multiple possible solutions. Unfortunately, the last math text I kept was my calculus book, so I don't have a ready cite from a high school algebra text. I can't think of any "polite" ways to say that you don't understand what you are talking about. perhaps when I struggle to remember the steps in completing the square and post it on one of these math files, you'll see why it matters. Human 02:05, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

Technically the plus/minus should go in front of the radical if you are referring to both square roots. Usually if there is no sign in front of radical it means just the positive square root. Scriabin 02:08, 24 April 2007 (EDT)
Exactly. I took a few minutes to think about what Rschlafly is saying again, and I apologise for the outburst. We make the point in the article that a number has two square roots, but fail to say that by convention we use the plus/minus symbol when we are making sure we haven't thrown out a solution. In other words, simply using the radical implies both answers, based on what the article says. What has to be explained is how this works in solving equations. Say we take the square root of "both sides" - often what has to happen then is that the two different roots force us into simplifying two separate possible equations in two separate columns, at least until the two possibilities resolve. It's a hard core math thing, in that in a lot of "real world" situations, there are no negative numbers. Think carpentry... So, to conclude, I think the expression should be included - but explained better. Human 02:18, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

OK, I tried to make it clearer. In the interest of a harmonious community, RSchlafly, do you think this makes more sense now? Human 02:34, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

I am still confused by "Since in many situations only the positive square root has any meaning". Don't you mean "Since in many situations both square roots are needed"? The square root symbol is for the nonnegative root, but often both roots are needed. RSchlafly 02:50, 24 April 2007 (EDT)
It could be said either way. The way I worded it, I hope, the positive root takes precendence, and both are included when the situation requires it. It could just as easily be worded the other way. Whichever consensus thinks is clearest and most useful to the target audience? Human 14:12, 24 April 2007 (EDT)
No, it cannot be said either way. It does not help to have two contradictory definitions of the square root sign. RSchlafly 14:35, 24 April 2007 (EDT)

Wolfram says:

The unique nonnegative square root of a nonnegative real number. For example, the principal square root of 9 is 3, although both -3 and 3 are square roots of 9. [1]

I want to make sure our article won't mislead some teen studying for the SAT. --Ed Poor 13:03, 24 April 2007 (EDT)