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The Rule of 4:
Words, Tables, Graphs, and Formulas
Mathematical techniques can be used to describe quantifiable relationships in various ways.
We might use words as an initial
description, and then one of several mathematical approaches to describe and work with the same relationships.
Consider the
following experiment where we are interested in the temperature of water at a given point of time.
WORDS (Verbal approach)
:
A sample of water with an initial temperature of
5 C
°
is being heated for 10 minutes so the
temperature of the water will increase at a constant rate of 2
°
C per minute.
At the end of the 10 minutes, the heat is turned off.
This means that the temperature of the water while it is being heated is computed by multiplying the number of minutes the
heat has been applied by 2 and adding this result to the original temperature of
5 C
°
.
The temperature of the water depends upon the number of minutes the heat has been applied.
This idea of one set of values
depending upon another set of values is very important.
In this case, the elapsed time would be called the independent

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