Some word problems provide too much information, but are there problems that do not provide enough information? What example can be given for a word problem providing too much information and what example can be given for a word problem providing too little information?

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(a) There are a number of ways to present too much information. You can add extraneous details, e.g. in 1987 a farmer had 150 head of cattle and lost 10% to disease. How many cattle remained? The year is extraneous.

Another way is to give information that can be determined from the other information. For example, given a right triangle with sides 15,20, and 25 determine the smallest angle. We did not need to give all three sides, just 2 sides and an indication of whether the sides were legs or the hypotenuse.

(b) An example of giving too little information: The distance from Town A to town B is 1/2 the distance from town B to town C. Find the distance from A to B.

Without knowing B to C this problem is impossible.

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