## 16 May

# Fraction Manipulation

One of the most unpopular maths principle is fractions. Fractions are simply a numeric quantity that is not a whole number. Dealing with them can be pretty stressful especially if the fraction has a pretty large or odd denominator. Mathematical problems usually require student to simplify and do arithmetic operations on fractions. The approach to these problems greatly determine the success rate and the probability of making errors during calculations.

Before attempting to perform any mathematical calculation on fractions, one should make sure that they are in their lowest form. Dealing with smaller figures will definitely minimize errors and make mental calculations much easier. A fraction is made up of two components which are the denominator at the bottom and the numerator on top. The denominator signifies the number of parts that the whole number has been divided into. The numerator represents the number of parts that are available. To simplify any large fraction, find the common factors for both the denominator and numerator. Determine the largest common factor and divide both denominator and numerator by it. Fractions can be mixed, proper or improper. Converting between all these forms must be mastered before attempting to solve them.

Fractions can be easily converted to a decimal form however this may result in rounding off of values. A fraction can also be expressed as a percentage for better understanding. It is always important to re-check any fractional simplification before proceeding because any calculation error will give false values. The best way to explain the concept of fractions is to use visual aids such as a pie chart. Manipulative techniques would be very effective in demonstrating the concept in a way that can be easily understood. In practice, fractions are critical where very small values can cause a great overall effect. An example would be the time taken by digital circuits to respond to inputs which is extremely minute. It becomes unrealistic to round off the time even by one second. Since the second is the smallest unit in time measure, fractional seconds such as the nanosecond become very useful.

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