A Year of Nights of Wondering – V: Fluffy Number Edition

We were beginning a section on complex numbers in my intermediate algebra class when Karen Sheelar (Her name used with her permission and encouragement.) said, “Can’t we call them ‘fluffy’ numbers?”  What a good idea!  I have always disliked the term ‘complex number’ with its negative connotations particularly in the context of an algebra class.  And I usually say so.  Karen beat me to the punch.  I used the term ‘fluffy number’ intermittently throughout the hour and in my next algebra class and felt better for it.

‘Fluffy’ is the perfect word.  Snugglely, cuddlely,or  cute don’t quite make the grade.  My wife suggested ‘unicorn numbers’ but I don’t like the aura of magic and fantasy.  Other terms that make me feel good would be ‘hot coffee numbers’, ‘home-made pizza numbers’, and ‘split pea soup with ham numbers’, but maybe I am just hungry.


About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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