Secondary School Educators/Paragraph comprehension

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Question
Officer Perez is dispatched to a motor vehicle accident in the area of Long Ave. and Taylor Street intersection. The address numbers go up in each direction, north, south, east, and west. Officer Perez visited the following address to questions witnesses, 521, 532, 525,512, and 511. If he visited the addresses from south to north, in what order did he visit the addresses.

Answer
This question as posed cannot be answered.  

Saying "The address numbers go up in each direction, north, south, east, and west"  seems to be saying that Long & Taylor is the center of the city's numbering system, so that whether you travel north or south from that intersection, the numbers get higher.  That makes the problem more difficult, but not impossible.

Also, we don't know which street runs north-south.  (I'm assuming that one of the streets runs north-south, but if the streets ran northwest-southeast and southwest-northeast, that would be a much more complicated, but still doable.)  But we have to know which direction the streets are running.

But the real show-stopper is that the addresses don't tell you what street you're on.  That makes the problem unsolvable.

So I'll make two sets of assumptions, and show you how to solve the problem in each case.
The first set of assumptions is:
1) Long Ave. runs north-south
2) addresses go up as you go north
3) all the addresses are on Long Ave.
In that case, it's a simple matter of sorting the addresses in increasing order: 511, 512, 521, 525, 532. This word problem tests your ability to sort.  (Of course there's a flaw that the question designers missed: in most places, 511 is right across the street from 512, so 512=511, *not* 512 > 511, but that's surely just sloppy question design, and your teacher will probably miss the error and believe 512 > 511.)

The second set of assumptions is:
1) Long Ave. runs north-south
2) the number on Long Ave. is at zero at Taylor Ave, and the numbers on Long Ave south of Taylor (we're going to call that South Long St) get higher as you go south.  The numbers on North Long St (north of Taylor) get higher as you go north.
3) I'm going to assign those house numbers to streets arbitrarily.
  521 N. Long Ave.
  532 S. Long Ave.
  525 N. Long Ave.
  512 Taylor Ave.
  511 S. Long Ave.
In that case, the addresses south-to-north are:
 532 S. Long Ave.
 511 S. Long Ave.
 521 N. Long Ave.
 525 N. Long Ave.
How do we get that sort?
1) All S. Long Ave. addresses are further south than all N. Long Ave. addresses, so those 2 addresses come first.  
2) On S. Long Ave., the higher the number, the further south, so 532 is south of 511.
3) Then come the N. Long Ave. addresses.
4) On N. Long Ave., the lower the number, the further south (or if you prefer, the lower the number, the less north), so 521 N. Long is south of 525 N. Long.  
This tests your ability to sort both positive and negative numbers. (525 > 521 > -511 > -521)

But we left out 512 Taylor Ave.  Well, from a north-south view, any address on Taylor is the equivalent of 0 Long Ave.  So the full list is:
 532 S. Long Ave.
 511 S. Long Ave.
 512 Taylor Ave.
 521 N. Long Ave.
 525 N. Long Ave.
This introduces a second dimension into your thinking, and shows you that the x value of a point is separate from its y value (the Taylor Ave. house is at 512, but that just shows where it is east-west; as far as north-south goes, it's at zero).

The third possible set of assumptions, where neither road runs north-south, involves trigonometry.  (And requires another assumption: a constant width for all the lots on both streets.)  I think the quickest solution would be to draw the streets on some graph paper, and then measure along the streets the number of mm equal to the address, and mark it.  Then put your ruler horizontally across the bottom of the page and slide it up.  Write down each address as the ruler hits it. (Oh, you'd also have to know the street width, and which side of the street has odd numbers, because if Long Ave. runs SW-NE, whether 511 is south of 512 is going to depend on which side of the street they're on.)

I hope that helps.

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Dan Riordan

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I am an expert in the E-Rate, the Schools & Libraries portion of the Universal Service Fund. I can answer questions for school districts on all topics related to applying for the program and receiving funds.

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When the E-Rate was first implemented, I was trained by the NJ Department of Education to assist schools in obtaining funding. Since then, I have worked inside school districts and as a consultant, getting funding for a wide range of schools and libraries.

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E-Rate Management Professionals Association (E-mpa™), Founding Board Member, first Ethics Committee Chairman New Jersey Association of School Business Officials (NJASBO), Associate Member Monmouth County Association of School Business Officials, Associate Member Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), Associate Member Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials International (PASBO) New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA), Allied Member International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Member Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Individual Member Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA), Private Sector Non-Attorney Member Society for Telecommunications Consultants (STC), Consultant Member New Jersey Library Association (ALA), Corporate Member New Jersey Library Association (NJLA), Commercial Member New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA), Member

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