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Esther did some wonderful "detective work"
and made a number of very useful observations:
1) The totals in the squares are double the totals in the circles.
I think this is because each circle number is used twice to solve
2) If the numbers in the squares are all even, the numbers in the
circles are either all odd or all even.
If the numbers in the squares are all odd, I cannot solve the
puzzle with whole numbers. This is because an even number minus an
odd number equals an odd number.
If you have two odd and one even in the squares then the numbers
in the circles are either two odd and one even or two even and one
However, if you have two even and one odd number in the squares you
cannot solve the puzzle using whole numbers.
3) If you draw the lines of symmetry through a circle and the
opposite square, the difference in the numbers in the squares on
either side equals the difference in the numbers in the circles on
Also the sum of the numbers on each line of symmetry is the same.
This also works for decimals and negative numbers.
4) I found a rule for working out the numbers in the circles. You
add the numbers in the squares next to it, subtract the number in
the opposite square, and divide the answer by two. This is why you
sometimes get decimals and negative numbers. I have only ever found
one solution to each puzzle using my rule.
I think you can always get answers as long as you can use decimals
and negative numbers using my rule as zero can always be made of +2
and -2 for example.
Harriet and Laura from The Mount School
offered the following explanation:
We found that when you added together the numbers in the squares,
(the ones already given) it totalled twice the accumulated amount
of the numbers in the circles. The reason for this can be shown
using algebra and is illustrated in the diagram below.
You can find the numbers being represented by $a$, $b$ or $c$ if
you have numbers in the squares.
We will show this by finding b using an example found on the
Using the equation $(b + a) + (b + c) = 2b + a + c $
you can take away $a$ and $c$ to find $2b$:
$(2b + a + c) - (a + c) = 2b $
So $(b + a) + (b + c) - (a + c) = 2b $
$2b = 12 + 4 - 10 = 6 $
$b = 3 $
This also works with negative numbers.
Robert from Leventhorpe School used a
To work out the formula for working out these arithmagons, we must
first substitute the numbers as such:
If we know $b, c$ and $e$, then we can say that
$a + d = b$,
$d + f = e$ and
$a + f = c$
In the first one, $b = 12, c =10$ and $e = 4$,
so $a + d = 12$, $d + f = 4$ and $a + f = 10$
If we then add all of these together,
we get $(a+d) + (d+f) + (a+f) = 12 + 4 + 10 $
We do not need the brackets,
so we can make it $a + d + d + f + a + f = 26 $
This can be cancelled down to $2a + 2d + 2f = 26 $
If we then divide everything by $2$ we get $a + d + f = 13$.
Because we know that $a + d = 12$, $f$ must be $1$.
Since $d + f = 4$, $d$ must be $3$.
Finally, we can say that a must be $9$.
Double checking this, it works. Take a look:
Tom from Colyton Grammar School also used
some algebraic thinking to analyse the problem:
If the circles were $z, y$ and $x$ from the top clockwise and the
squares are $q, r$ and $p$ from the left clockwise then
$x + z = q$,
$z + y = r$
and $x + y = p$.
$q - r = x - y$
so $q + p - r = 2x$
so $x = (q + p - r) / 2$.
This means that $y = ( p + r - q ) / 2$
and $z = (q + r - p) / 2$, by symmetry.
Shaun from Nottingham High School came to
the same conclusion:
It struck me this problem would be most easily investigated using
simultaneous equations as a means of deriving a common rule for all
I will call the three circles of the arithmagon $a, d$ and
Hence, each squares can be expressed as the sum of two of the
Since we have three variables, and three equations involving two of
them each, we know it can be solved this way.
Some preliminary doodlings proved this to be true.
Let the squares be defined as follows:
(1) $a + d = b$
(2) $d + f = e$
(3) $f + a = c$
(4) $b + f = c + d$
(5) $b + f = e + a$
(6) $e + a = c + d$
From (4): $f = d + c - b$
Combining this result and (2):
$e - d = d + c - b$
$2d = e - c + b$
$d = (b + e - c)/2$
And so, using this formula, the value in a circle, when the three
squares in the arithmagon are known, can be found.
Of course, the variable $b$ can be used to denote any of the three
circles, and $x$ and $y$ the adjacent squares (does not matter
which), and $z$ the opposite.
Following these rules, the formula can also be written as:
$a = (b + c - e) / 2$
$c = (c + e - b) / 2$
I think the process I have gone through above explains why all
arithmagons can be completed - they all exhibit these attributes,
and so can all be solved in the same way.
Lindsay's solution is here.
It explains why Tom from Cottenham Village
College found that:
If you add up all of the numbers in the squares and halve it, then
subtract the number on the opposite side to a circle (the number in
the square) you will get the number that goes in the circle.
Aurora, from the British School in Manila,
explained her strategy clearly:
Firstly, let's call the bottom left vertex z, the top one x, and
the bottom right y.
If x+y is 17, and z+x is 15, the difference between z and y must be
If z=9, y is 11 and x is 6
Here is how John and Karl, from King's School
Grantham, explained how they derived a formula for finding the
values of the vertices.
Here is how Charlotte, from Llandovery College,
summarised two of the most popular strategies, and here is how Krystof, from Uhelny Trh in Prague,
applied his strategy.
We also received good solutions to this
problem from Leighton, Sia Jia Rui from Raffles Institution in
Singapore, Bhavik, Brenna from Bream Bay College, Heer, Sarah &
Heledd from St Stephen's Carramar in Perth, Alex and Luke from
Llandovery College in Wales, Sam from Shrewsbury House School,
Robert from West Hoathly Primary School, Amy from Hanham High
School, Ryan and Alisha from Lacon Childe School, Lauren from
St.Peters Primary School and Michael, Alexander, Jake, Hussein and
Charlie from Wilson's School.