The most difficult math problem in this year’s HSC

The “HSC” in Australia is the “High School Certificate” which you get when you graduate high school. In order to do that you have to take the final exam, known as the “HSC exam”, or simply the “HSC”.

When I did the HSC 24 odd years ago the top level maths course (which I took) was called “4 Unit Maths”, whereas these days the top level course is now called “Maths Extension 2”. I expect the difficulty increased over the decades too.

Here’s the hardest question from this year’s Maths Extension 2 HSC paper:

There’s an article about it all in the newspaper today: ‘Not seen a question like it’: The most difficult problem in this year’s HSC.

I don’t remember enough about complex numbers, geometry, and trigonometry to answer this question, it is quite beyond me.

Math binge

Some fun math videos:

And some fun math articles:

Math support in MediaWiki

I’ve been through this process before (for older versions of MediaWiki than the 1.18 version I’m using at the moment, and things have changed) but yesterday I found myself following instructions for enabling support for mathematical equations in MediaWiki. So that’s up-to-date on my Morpheus (private) and Sixsigma (public at wikis (which are based on my jjwiki project). At the moment I have four wiki projects: bkwiki and bkdevwiki for Blackbrick, pcwiki for ProgClub and jjwiki for I also have another wiki project that’s not presently under version control called BBS for Blackbrick. I think I’ll roll the bkwiki, bkdevwiki and BBS projects into a single project (bkwiki), and the pcwiki and jjwiki projects into a single project (jjwiki) so that I only have two MediaWiki projects to maintain (for now). But, as usual, making things simpler demands more work… not sure when I’ll get around to that.

Forcing MediaWiki to display math as PNG

I had a problem with MediaWiki math sections not always displaying as a PNG. For simple expressions HTML was used instead. This lead to a very non-uniform look and feel where some images had a green background and large fonts (for PNG expressions) compared to a black background and different fonts (for HTML expressions). I wanted a uniform look and feel so I went looking for a configuration setting.

I haven’t been able to figure out how to force mediawiki to always display a PNG as a global setting, but in your user settings on the math preferences section you can change from the default “HTML if very simple or else PNG” to “Always render PNG” which fixes the problem on a per user basis, which is good enough for me.