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

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Perfectly Square

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

The sums of the squares of three related numbers is also a perfect square - can you explain why?

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Unit Interval

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

Take any two numbers between 0 and 1. Prove that the sum of the numbers is always less than one plus their product?

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Number Rules - OK

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

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 number...

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Mediant

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

If you take two tests and get a marks out of a maximum b in the first and c marks out of d in the second, does the mediant (a+c)/(b+d)lie between the results for the two tests separately.

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Mouhefanggai

Stage: 4

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.

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Largest Product

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

Which set of numbers that add to 10 have the largest product?

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Lens Angle

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

Find the missing angle between the two secants to the circle when the two angles at the centre subtended by the arcs created by the intersections of the secants and the circle are 50 and 120 degrees.

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Pareq Exists

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

Prove that, given any three parallel lines, an equilateral triangle always exists with one vertex on each of the three lines.

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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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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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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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AMGM

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

Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?

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Geometry and Gravity 2

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

This is the second of two articles and discusses problems relating to the curvature of space, shortest distances on surfaces, triangulations of surfaces and representation by graphs.

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Janine's Conjecture

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

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. . . .

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Leonardo's Problem

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

A, B & C own a half, a third and a sixth of a coin collection. Each grab some coins, return some, then share equally what they had put back, finishing with their own share. How rich are they?

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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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Long Short

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

What can you say about the lengths of the sides of a quadrilateral whose vertices are on a unit circle?

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Our Ages

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

I am exactly n times my daughter's age. In m years I shall be ... How old am I?

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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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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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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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Magic Squares II

Stage: 4 and 5

An article which gives an account of some properties of magic squares.

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Picturing Pythagorean Triples

Stage: 4 and 5

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.

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Whole Number Dynamics V

Stage: 4 and 5

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.

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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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Archimedes and Numerical Roots

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

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?

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Find the Fake

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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?

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A Long Time at the Till

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

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?

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Knight Defeated

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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Iffy Logic

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

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

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Converse

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

Clearly if a, b and c are the lengths of the sides of an equilateral triangle then a^2 + b^2 + c^2 = ab + bc + ca. Is the converse true?

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Zig Zag

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

Four identical right angled triangles are drawn on the sides of a square. Two face out, two face in. Why do the four vertices marked with dots lie on one line?

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Pythagoras Proofs

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

Can you make sense of these three proofs of Pythagoras' Theorem?

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Symmetric Tangles

Stage: 4

The tangles created by the twists and turns of the Conway rope trick are surprisingly symmetrical. Here's why!

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Advent Calendar 2011 - Secondary

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

Advent Calendar 2011 - a mathematical activity for each day during the run-up to Christmas.

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Calculating with Cosines

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

If I tell you two sides of a right-angled triangle, you can easily work out the third. But what if the angle between the two sides is not a right angle?

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Whole Number Dynamics IV

Stage: 4 and 5

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?

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A Knight's Journey

Stage: 4 and 5

This article looks at knight's moves on a chess board and introduces you to the idea of vectors and vector addition.

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L-triominoes

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

L triominoes can fit together to make larger versions of themselves. Is every size possible to make in this way?

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What Numbers Can We Make Now?

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

Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?

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Mod 3

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Prove that if a^2+b^2 is a multiple of 3 then both a and b are multiples of 3.

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Geometric Parabola

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

Explore what happens when you draw graphs of quadratic equations with coefficients based on a geometric sequence.

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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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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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Kite in a Square

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you make sense of the three methods to work out the area of the kite in the square?

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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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Whole Number Dynamics I

Stage: 4 and 5

The first of five articles concentrating on whole number dynamics, ideas of general dynamical systems are introduced and seen in concrete cases.

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On the Importance of Pedantry

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

A introduction to how patterns can be deceiving, and what is and is not a proof.

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Postage

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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Logic, Truth Tables and Switching Circuits Challenge

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

Learn about the link between logical arguments and electronic circuits. Investigate the logical connectives by making and testing your own circuits and fill in the blanks in truth tables to record. . . .