Common Math Errors
Written by Paul Dawkins
Originally the intended audience for this was my Calculus I
students as pretty much every error listed here shows up in that class with
alarming frequency. After writing it
however I realized that, with the exception of a few examples, the first four
sections should be accessible to anyone taking a math class and many of the
errors listed in the first four sections also show up in math classes at pretty
much every level. So, if you haven’t had
calculus yet (or never will) you should ignore the last section and the
occasional calculus examples in the first four sections.
I got the idea for doing this when I ran across Eric Schechter’s list of common errors located at http://www.math.vanderbilt.edu/~schectex/commerrs/. There is a fair amount of overlap in the
errors discussed on both of our pages.
Sometimes the discussion is similar and at other times it’s different. The main difference between our two pages is
I stick to the level of Calculus and lower while he also discusses errors in
proof techniques and some more advanced topics as well. I would encourage everyone interested in
common math errors also take a look at his page.