I've blogged about the treasures I've found in old textbooks many times before (for example in my post about Elementary Algebra for Schools), and once I even had a team of teachers type up some of the exercises. I also have page on my blog where teachers can access online versions of old textbooks, going back to the 1500s.

Today I thought I’d try something different. I took some pictures of exercises and tried converting them to PDFs using mathpix.com.

I didn't really know what to expect, but the quality of the output blew my mind!

I didn't really know what to expect, but the quality of the output blew my mind!

I randomly took some photos of pages from the textbook on my phone. I uploaded them to Mathpix and it instantly converted them to very high quality electronic versions. I'm shocked that it was able to read the pictures so well! Below are my initial attempts (note that I was randomly taking photos of various pages in the book, hence these aren't full exercises).

Here's the first photo I took:

And here's what Mathpix gave me. It is spot on.

I tried something which I thought might be harder to read (the indices in the textbook are a bit blurry):

But it had no trouble with this at all (this is an extract from this exercise - I have rearranged it in Word. I love these questions...)

I wondered if it could cope with surds and the answer is yes.

This exercise on expanding double brackets came out clearly too.

Compare this exercise with equivalent exercises in modern textbooks. So much thought has gone into it. I suspect that many modern day Key Stage 3 'top set' classes just practise the basics of expanding double brackets and then move on, instead of being given the opportunity to really strengthen their algebraic fluency by attempting questions like these.

And one final example - solving quadratic equations.

Just as I got very excited about all this, I realised that Mathspix limits me to only ten free snips, and I used them all very quickly...

But it's so interesting to see that there's huge potential here to make very useable versions of some these old exercises. And yes - the answers are at the back of the book! So they could be converted too.

It is a great job, Jo! Well done!

ReplyDeleteAwesome!

ReplyDeleteI have this book in 2 volumes. Also spotted a number of other books on your shelf that I have. E A Maxwell algebra is particularly good

ReplyDeleteAlso spotted Lamb's Calculus which I have had since my teens. A classic book, the (then) radical treatment of the exponential function in terms of its derivative

ReplyDelete