Let a(n) be the number of ways of expressing the integer n as an
ordered sum of 1's and 2's. Let b(n) be the number of ways of
expressing n as an ordered sum of integers greater than 1. (i)
Calculate. . . .
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. . . .
Investigate the sequences obtained by starting with any positive 2
digit number (10a+b) and repeatedly using the rule 10a+b maps to
10b-a to get the next number in the sequence.
Take any whole number between 1 and 999, add the squares of the
digits to get a new number. Make some conjectures about what
happens in general.
This addition sum uses all ten digits 0, 1, 2...9 exactly once.
Find the sum and show that the one you give is the only
The knight's move on a chess board is 2 steps in one direction and one step in the other direction. Prove that a knight cannot visit every square on the board once and only (a tour) on a 2 by n board. . . .
The country Sixtania prints postage stamps with only three values 6 lucres, 10 lucres and 15 lucres (where the currency is in lucres).Which values cannot be made up with combinations of these postage. . . .
A 'doodle' is a closed intersecting curve drawn without taking
pencil from paper. Only two lines cross at each intersection or
vertex (never 3), that is the vertex points must be 'double points'
not. . . .
Start with any triangle T1 and its inscribed circle. Draw the
triangle T2 which has its vertices at the points of contact between
the triangle T1 and its incircle. Now keep repeating this. . . .
Consider the equation 1/a + 1/b + 1/c = 1 where a, b and c are
natural numbers and 0 < a < b < c. Prove that there is
only one set of values which satisfy this equation.
What does logic mean to us and is that different to mathematical logic? We will explore these questions in this article.
Eight children enter the autumn cross-country race at school. How
many possible ways could they come in at first, second and third
Janine noticed, while studying some cube numbers, that if you take
three consecutive whole numbers and multiply them together and then
add the middle number of the three, you get the middle number. . . .
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. . . .
Replace each letter with a digit to make this addition correct.
Take any two numbers between 0 and 1. Prove that the sum of the
numbers is always less than one plus their product?
Here are some examples of 'cons', and see if you can figure out where the trick is.
Liam's house has a staircase with 12 steps. He can go down the steps one at a time or two at time. In how many different ways can Liam go down the 12 steps?
Choose a couple of the sequences. Try to picture how to make the next, and the next, and the next... Can you describe your reasoning?
Can you find all the 4-ball shuffles?
Here are three 'tricks' to amaze your friends. But the really
clever trick is explaining to them why these 'tricks' are maths not
magic. Like all good magicians, you should practice by trying. . . .
This jar used to hold perfumed oil. It contained enough oil to fill
granid silver bottles. Each bottle held enough to fill ozvik golden
goblets and each goblet held enough to fill vaswik crystal. . . .
A serious but easily readable discussion of proof in mathematics with some amusing stories and some interesting examples.
Carry out cyclic permutations of nine digit numbers containing the
digits from 1 to 9 (until you get back to the first number). Prove
that whatever number you choose, they will add to the same total.
We have exactly 100 coins. There are five different values of
coins. We have decided to buy a piece of computer software for
39.75. We have the correct money, not a penny more, not a penny
less! Can. . . .
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.
If you think that mathematical proof is really clearcut and
universal then you should read this article.
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. . . .
This article discusses how every Pythagorean triple (a, b, c) can be illustrated by a square and an L shape within another square. You are invited to find some triples for yourself.
An article which gives an account of some properties of magic squares.
The final of five articles which containe the proof of why the sequence introduced in article IV either reaches the fixed point 0 or the sequence enters a repeating cycle of four values.
Start with any whole number N, write N as a multiple of 10 plus a remainder R and produce a new whole number N'. Repeat. What happens?
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.
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.
The first of five articles concentrating on whole number dynamics, ideas of general dynamical systems are introduced and seen in concrete cases.
If you know the sizes of the angles marked with coloured dots in
this diagram which angles can you find by calculation?
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.
Baker, Cooper, Jones and Smith are four people whose occupations
are teacher, welder, mechanic and programmer, but not necessarily
in that order. What is each person’s occupation?
Find the area of the annulus in terms of the length of the chord
which is tangent to the inner circle.
Semicircles are drawn on the sides of a rectangle ABCD. A circle passing through points ABCD carves out four crescent-shaped regions. Prove that the sum of the areas of the four crescents is equal to. . . .
A paradox is a statement that seems to be both untrue and true at the same time. This article looks at a few examples and challenges you to investigate them for yourself.
Factorial one hundred (written 100!) has 24 noughts when written in full and that 1000! has 249 noughts? Convince yourself that the above is true. Perhaps your methodology will help you find the. . . .
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. . . .
Imagine two identical cylindrical pipes meeting at right angles and think about the shape of the space which belongs to both pipes. Early Chinese mathematicians call this shape the mouhefanggai.
Prove that, given any three parallel lines, an equilateral triangle
always exists with one vertex on each of the three lines.
Write down a three-digit number Change the order of the digits to
get a different number Find the difference between the two three
digit numbers Follow the rest of the instructions then try. . . .
Nine cross country runners compete in a team competition in which
there are three matches. If you were a judge how would you decide
who would win?
Try to solve this very difficult problem and then study our two suggested solutions. How would you use your knowledge to try to solve variants on the original problem?
Advent Calendar 2011 - a mathematical activity for each day during the run-up to Christmas.
Powers of numbers behave in surprising ways. Take a look at some of these and try to explain why they are true.