## WeBWorK Problems

### Is there a faster way to find problems in the National Problem Library?

by Dallin Stephens -
Number of replies: 5
In WeBWorK, I'm only able to access about 20 problems per page. I have to keep pressing next to see the next set. Is there a way to scroll through 100s of problems within just a few minutes? Is there a basic condensed list?

My concern is that I may be using a certain math textbook to teach a class and I need to find similar problems. For example, let's say that I wanted to find a problem that resembles the form (x+2) ^2 = 2x^2 + 3x + 2 where you solve for x. I don't want to have spend over a half hour trying to see if there is a problem that resembles that form. If I wanted to search the National Problem Library for 8 similar problems from my textbook and each problem took 30 minutes to find, then it could take me 4 hours to find all of them.

My suggestion would be to have a list something like this:

QUICK PROBLEM LIST

Basic Problem --------- Abbreviated Directions ------ Location of file
1. 2x+4=8 ---------------- solve for x --------------------- file name
2. (2x-3)(3x-5)=16 ------ solve for x --------------------- file name
3. x/4 = 16 -------------- solve for x ---------------------- file name
4. 4(x-2)(2x-4) ---------- distribute ----------------------- file name
5. x(x^2 + 3) - x + 2 ---- simplify ------------------------- file name
6. (x-4)/3 = 6 ----------- solve for x ---------------------- file name
7. x^2 + 3x + 2 = 0 ------ use the quadratic formula --- file name
8. etc. ------------------- abbreviated directions ------- file name

With a list like the one above, I would be able to scroll through hundreds of problems within just a few minutes. I may have to go through the National Problem Library to create my own quick problem list if it hasn't already been done. However, that will take some time. I was hoping that there is a quicker method already out there that I don't know about. If so, then that would save me a lot of time.

Any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks,

Dallin

### Re: Is there a faster way to find problems in the National Problem Library?

by Hedley Pinsent -
I look in my hymn book and see:

...
"Alphabetical Index of Tunes"
"Metrical Indes of Tunes"
"Index of Chants"
"Index of Authors and Sources"
...
"Subject Index"
"Index of First Lines"

"Hymns suitable for these days" ...

I think, for us, there is a place for an index of equations.

With several indices a search can then be conducted on a combination of criteria.

Said differently: If the clergy can have crib notes, maybe we should also.

hp

### Re: Is there a faster way to find problems in the National Problem Library?

I think it is impossible to overestimate the difficulty of producing a good index or set of keywords (or key phrases) for a dynamically changing body of material.

This is somewhat unlike printing a book.  There may be subsequent editions, but once your hymnal is printed it's static.

The most robust algorithms I know about for searching a large body of dynamic material are Google's.  What I'd like to be able to do is search the problem library for problems containing words, phrases, and combinations of those.  And rather than reinventing the wheel, it seems like it would make sense to try to harness Google's stuff for this.

I wish I was volunteering to do this, but I'm not.

### Re: Is there a faster way to find problems in the National Problem Library?

by Dallin Stephens -
Thanks for the reply. I suppose I'll have to create my own organized problem-library list. At least the problems are fairly organized into categories or subjects.

A search engine for the open problem library seems like a good idea. However, the search engine would have to be able to bring up problems that are similar rather than exact. In other words, if I searched for x^2 + 4 = 8, the search engine would need to be able to bring up similar problems in the open problem library. Perhaps an exact problem in the open problem library would be x^2 + 12 = 16. So, when I search for x^2 + 4 = 8, it should be able to bring up x^2 + 12 = 16 in the open problem library.

### Re: Is there a faster way to find problems in the National Problem Library?

by John Jones -
First, you asked if you could scroll through more than 20 problems at a time.  The library browser lets you pick how many problems it will show per page.  The control for that is on the same line as the View Problems button and the display mode.

Searching for equations in problems is unlikely to work.  I can imagine a full google search being made possible, either for a rendered version of each problem, or for the internal pg code.  I am not sure either is all that helpful, but it might be an interesting thing to try.

We hope to adjust the NPL so that very similar problems are grouped, and only one problem per group is shown initially.  There would be a button to show/hide the similar problems for each one.  That will hopefully make it easier to go through the problems to find the ones you want.