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'Cheese Cutting' printed from http://nrich.maths.org/
Visualisation of 3D objects is a
very useful real-life skill used in a range of everyday situations,
from packing suitcases and boxes into the back of a car to travel
to university through to parking the car in a tight space upon
arrival. We can practise and develop our 3D skills and intuition
through the study of the following sorts of mathematical problems.
Spatial problems are mathematically quite different to algebraic
problems and you may find one type of problem easier or more
difficult depending on how your brain works!
I have some cubes of cheese and cut them into pieces using straight
cuts from a very sharp cheese wire. In between cuts I do not move
the pieces from the original cube shape.
For example, with just one cut I will obviously get two smaller
pieces of cheese, with two cuts I can get up to 4 pieces of cheese
and with three cuts I can get up to $8$ pieces of cheese, as shown
in the picture:
Suppose I now make a fourth cut. How many individual pieces of
cheese can I make?
Suppose now that I am allowed more generally to cut the block
$N$ times. Can you say anything about the maximum or minimum number
of pieces of chesse that you will be able to create?
Although you will not be able to determine the theoretical
maximum number of pieces of cheese for $N$ cuts, you can always
create a systematic cutting system which will generate a
pre-detemined number of pieces (for example, making $N$ parallel
cuts will always result in $N+1$ pieces of cheese). Investigate
developing better cutting algorithms which will provide larger
numbers of pieces. Using your algorithm what is the largest number
of pieces of cheese you can make for $10$, $50$ and $100$