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.
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. . . .
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. . . .
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. . . .
Powers of numbers behave in surprising ways. Take a look at some of these and try to explain why they are true.
A connected graph is a graph in which we can get from any vertex to
any other by travelling along the edges. A tree is a connected
graph with no closed circuits (or loops. Prove that every tree. . . .
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
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.
The problem is how did Archimedes calculate the lengths of the sides of the polygons which needed him to be able to calculate square roots?
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. . . .
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. . . .
Here are some examples of 'cons', and see if you can figure out where the trick is.
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. . . .
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. . . .
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?
Your partner chooses two beads and places them side by side behind a screen. What is the minimum number of guesses you would need to be sure of guessing the two beads and their positions?
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?
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?
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.
Can you find all the 4-ball shuffles?
A serious but easily readable discussion of proof in mathematics with some amusing stories and some interesting examples.
Eulerian and Hamiltonian circuits are defined with some simple examples and a couple of puzzles to illustrate Hamiltonian circuits.
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. . . .
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.
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. . . .
Can you convince me of each of the following: If a square number is
multiplied by a square number the product is ALWAYS a square
Find the area of the annulus in terms of the length of the chord
which is tangent to the inner circle.
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. . . .
In how many distinct ways can six islands be joined by bridges so that each island can be reached from every other island...
If you think that mathematical proof is really clearcut and
universal then you should read this article.
Prove that, given any three parallel lines, an equilateral triangle
always exists with one vertex on each of the three lines.
Take any two numbers between 0 and 1. Prove that the sum of the
numbers is always less than one plus their product?
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. . . .
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.
Replace each letter with a digit to make this addition correct.
An iterative method for finding the value of the Golden Ratio with explanations of how this involves the ratios of Fibonacci numbers and continued fractions.
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.
The sums of the squares of three related numbers is also a perfect
square - can you explain why?
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.
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
I start with a red, a green and a blue marble. I can trade any of my marbles for two others, one of each colour. Can I end up with five more blue marbles than red after a number of such trades?
I start with a red, a blue, a green and a yellow marble. I can
trade any of my marbles for three others, one of each colour. Can I
end up with exactly two marbles of each colour?
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.
There are 12 identical looking coins, one of which is a fake. The
counterfeit coin is of a different weight to the rest. What is the
minimum number of weighings needed to locate the fake coin?
Six points are arranged in space so that no three are collinear.
How many line segments can be formed by joining the points in
The tangles created by the twists and turns of the Conway rope
trick are surprisingly symmetrical. Here's why!