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Broad Topics > Using, Applying and Reasoning about Mathematics > Mathematical reasoning & proof

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The Triangle Game

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you discover whether this is a fair game?

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Picture Story

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Can you see how this picture illustrates the formula for the sum of the first six cube numbers?

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Composite Notions

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

A composite number is one that is neither prime nor 1. Show that 10201 is composite in any base.

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Yih or Luk Tsut K'i or Three Men's Morris

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Some puzzles requiring no knowledge of knot theory, just a careful inspection of the patterns. A glimpse of the classification of knots and a little about prime knots, crossing numbers and. . . .

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Sprouts Explained

Stage: 2, 3, 4 and 5

This article invites you to get familiar with a strategic game called "sprouts". The game is simple enough for younger children to understand, and has also provided experienced mathematicians with. . . .

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Chocolate Maths

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Pick the number of times a week that you eat chocolate. This number must be more than one but less than ten. Multiply this number by 2. Add 5 (for Sunday). Multiply by 50... Can you explain why it. . . .

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Natural Sum

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

The picture illustrates the sum 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = (4 x 5)/2. Prove the general formula for the sum of the first n natural numbers and the formula for the sum of the cubes of the first n natural. . . .

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Multiplication Square

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?

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Concrete Wheel

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A huge wheel is rolling past your window. What do you see?

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Rotating Triangle

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

What happens to the perimeter of triangle ABC as the two smaller circles change size and roll around inside the bigger circle?

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Triangle Inequality

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

ABC is an equilateral triangle and P is a point in the interior of the triangle. We know that AP = 3cm and BP = 4cm. Prove that CP must be less than 10 cm.

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Proof Sorter - Quadratic Equation

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

This is an interactivity in which you have to sort the steps in the completion of the square into the correct order to prove the formula for the solutions of quadratic equations.

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To Prove or Not to Prove

Stage: 4 and 5

A serious but easily readable discussion of proof in mathematics with some amusing stories and some interesting examples.

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Volume of a Pyramid and a Cone

Stage: 3

These formulae are often quoted, but rarely proved. In this article, we derive the formulae for the volumes of a square-based pyramid and a cone, using relatively simple mathematical concepts.

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Convex Polygons

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Show that among the interior angles of a convex polygon there cannot be more than three acute angles.

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There's a Limit

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Explore the continued fraction: 2+3/(2+3/(2+3/2+...)) What do you notice when successive terms are taken? What happens to the terms if the fraction goes on indefinitely?

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Disappearing Square

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Do you know how to find the area of a triangle? You can count the squares. What happens if we turn the triangle on end? Press the button and see. Try counting the number of units in the triangle now. . . .

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Whole Number Dynamics III

Stage: 4 and 5

In this third of five articles we prove that whatever whole number we start with for the Happy Number sequence we will always end up with some set of numbers being repeated over and over again.

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Online

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A game for 2 players that can be played online. Players take it in turns to select a word from the 9 words given. The aim is to select all the occurrences of the same letter.

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Konigsberg Plus

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Euler discussed whether or not it was possible to stroll around Koenigsberg crossing each of its seven bridges exactly once. Experiment with different numbers of islands and bridges.

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Shuffle Shriek

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you find all the 4-ball shuffles?

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Iffy Logic

Stage: 4 Short Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you rearrange the cards to make a series of correct mathematical statements?

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Three Frogs

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Three frogs hopped onto the table. A red frog on the left a green in the middle and a blue frog on the right. Then frogs started jumping randomly over any adjacent frog. Is it possible for them to. . . .

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More Number Pyramids

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...

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Whole Number Dynamics II

Stage: 4 and 5

This article extends the discussions in "Whole number dynamics I". Continuing the proof that, for all starting points, the Happy Number sequence goes into a loop or homes in on a fixed point.

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AMGM

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Choose any two numbers. Call them a and b. Work out the arithmetic mean and the geometric mean. Which is bigger? Repeat for other pairs of numbers. What do you notice?

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Impossible Sandwiches

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

In this 7-sandwich: 7 1 3 1 6 4 3 5 7 2 4 6 2 5 there are 7 numbers between the 7s, 6 between the 6s etc. The article shows which values of n can make n-sandwiches and which cannot.

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Königsberg

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Can you cross each of the seven bridges that join the north and south of the river to the two islands, once and once only, without retracing your steps?

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Reverse to Order

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Take any two digit number, for example 58. What do you have to do to reverse the order of the digits? Can you find a rule for reversing the order of digits for any two digit number?

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DOTS Division

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Take any pair of two digit numbers x=ab and y=cd where, without loss of generality, ab > cd . Form two 4 digit numbers r=abcd and s=cdab and calculate: {r^2 - s^2} /{x^2 - y^2}.

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Problem Solving, Using and Applying and Functional Mathematics

Stage: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Problem solving is at the heart of the NRICH site. All the problems give learners opportunities to learn, develop or use mathematical concepts and skills. Read here for more information.

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How Many Dice?

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A standard die has the numbers 1, 2 and 3 are opposite 6, 5 and 4 respectively so that opposite faces add to 7? If you make standard dice by writing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 on blank cubes you will find. . . .

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Never Prime

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

If a two digit number has its digits reversed and the smaller of the two numbers is subtracted from the larger, prove the difference can never be prime.

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Proximity

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

We are given a regular icosahedron having three red vertices. Show that it has a vertex that has at least two red neighbours.

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Mindreader

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

A little bit of algebra explains this 'magic'. Ask a friend to pick 3 consecutive numbers and to tell you a multiple of 3. Then ask them to add the four numbers and multiply by 67, and to tell you. . . .

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Long Short

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A quadrilateral inscribed in a unit circle has sides of lengths s1, s2, s3 and s4 where s1 ≤ s2 ≤ s3 ≤ s4. Find a quadrilateral of this type for which s1= sqrt2 and show s1 cannot. . . .

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Some Circuits in Graph or Network Theory

Stage: 4 and 5

Eulerian and Hamiltonian circuits are defined with some simple examples and a couple of puzzles to illustrate Hamiltonian circuits.

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Diophantine N-tuples

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Take any whole number q. Calculate q^2 - 1. Factorize q^2-1 to give two factors a and b (not necessarily q+1 and q-1). Put c = a + b + 2q . Then you will find that ab+1 , bc+1 and ca+1 are all. . . .

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Common Divisor

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Find the largest integer which divides every member of the following sequence: 1^5-1, 2^5-2, 3^5-3, ... n^5-n.

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Converse

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Clearly if a, b and c are the lengths of the sides of a triangle and the triangle is equilateral then a^2 + b^2 + c^2 = ab + bc + ca. Is the converse true, and if so can you prove it? That is if. . . .

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Sixational

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

The nth term of a sequence is given by the formula n^3 + 11n . Find the first four terms of the sequence given by this formula and the first term of the sequence which is bigger than one million. . . .

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A Biggy

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Find the smallest positive integer N such that N/2 is a perfect cube, N/3 is a perfect fifth power and N/5 is a perfect seventh power.

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Road Maker

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Which of these roads will satisfy a Munchkin builder?

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Euler's Squares

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Euler found four whole numbers such that the sum of any two of the numbers is a perfect square. Three of the numbers that he found are a = 18530, b=65570, c=45986. Find the fourth number, x. You. . . .

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Russian Cubes

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

How many different cubes can be painted with three blue faces and three red faces? A boy (using blue) and a girl (using red) paint the faces of a cube in turn so that the six faces are painted. . . .

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Tourism

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

If you can copy a network without lifting your pen off the paper and without drawing any line twice, then it is traversable. Decide which of these diagrams are traversable.

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Gift of Gems

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Four jewellers possessing respectively eight rubies, ten saphires, a hundred pearls and five diamonds, presented, each from his own stock, one apiece to the rest in token of regard; and they. . . .

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Tessellating Hexagons

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Is it true that any convex hexagon will tessellate if it has a pair of opposite sides that are equal, and three adjacent angles that add up to 360 degrees?

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Prime AP

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Show that if three prime numbers, all greater than 3, form an arithmetic progression then the common difference is divisible by 6. What if one of the terms is 3?

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Go Forth and Generalise

Stage: 3

Spotting patterns can be an important first step - explaining why it is appropriate to generalise is the next step, and often the most interesting and important.