Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 277–289 | Cite as

Generic examples: Seeing the general in the particular

  • John Mason
  • David Pimm


This paper explores some of the ambiguities inherent in the notions of generality and genericity, drawing parallels between natural language and mathematics, and thereby obliquely attacking the entrenched view that mathematics is unambiguous. Alternative ways of construing 2N, for example, suggest approaches to some of the difficulties which students find with an algebraic representation of generality. Examples are given to show that confusion of levels is widespread throughout mathematics, but that the very confusion is a source of richness of meaning.


Natural Language Algebraic Representation 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Mason
    • 1
  • David Pimm
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Maths EducationThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesEngland

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