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

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Plus or Minus

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Make and prove a conjecture about the value of the product of the Fibonacci numbers $F_{n+1}F_{n-1}$.

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Golden Eggs

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Find a connection between the shape of a special ellipse and an infinite string of nested square roots.

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The Golden Ratio, Fibonacci Numbers and Continued Fractions.

Stage: 4

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.

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How Many Solutions?

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Find all the solutions to the this equation.

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Continued Fractions II

Stage: 5

In this article we show that every whole number can be written as a continued fraction of the form k/(1+k/(1+k/...)).

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Target Six

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Show that x = 1 is a solution of the equation x^(3/2) - 8x^(-3/2) = 7 and find all other solutions.

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Three Ways

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

If x + y = -1 find the largest value of xy by coordinate geometry, by calculus and by algebra.

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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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The Root Cause

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Prove that if a is a natural number and the square root of a is rational, then it is a square number (an integer n^2 for some integer n.)

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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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Ordered Sums

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

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. . . .

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Square Mean

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Is the mean of the squares of two numbers greater than, or less than, the square of their means?

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Pent

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

The diagram shows a regular pentagon with sides of unit length. Find all the angles in the diagram. Prove that the quadrilateral shown in red is a rhombus.

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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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Power Mad!

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

Powers of numbers behave in surprising ways. Take a look at some of these and try to explain why they are true.

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Thousand Words

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Here the diagram says it all. Can you find the diagram?

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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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Square Pair Circles

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Investigate the number of points with integer coordinates on circles with centres at the origin for which the square of the radius is a power of 5.

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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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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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Power Quady

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Find all real solutions of the equation (x^2-7x+11)^(x^2-11x+30) = 1.

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Without Calculus

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Given that u>0 and v>0 find the smallest possible value of 1/u + 1/v given that u + v = 5 by different methods.

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Pythagorean Golden Means

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Show that the arithmetic mean, geometric mean and harmonic mean of a and b can be the lengths of the sides of a right-angles triangle if and only if a = bx^3, where x is the Golden Ratio.

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Rational Roots

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Given that a, b and c are natural numbers show that if sqrt a+sqrt b is rational then it is a natural number. Extend this to 3 variables.

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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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A Computer Program to Find Magic Squares

Stage: 5

This follows up the 'magic Squares for Special Occasions' article which tells you you to create a 4by4 magicsquare with a special date on the top line using no negative numbers and no repeats.

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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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Euler's Formula and Topology

Stage: 5

Here is a proof of Euler's formula in the plane and on a sphere together with projects to explore cases of the formula for a polygon with holes, for the torus and other solids with holes and the. . . .

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Fractional Calculus III

Stage: 5

Fractional calculus is a generalisation of ordinary calculus where you can differentiate n times when n is not a whole number.

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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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Proofs with Pictures

Stage: 5

Some diagrammatic 'proofs' of algebraic identities and inequalities.

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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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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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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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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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Circle Box

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

It is obvious that we can fit four circles of diameter 1 unit in a square of side 2 without overlapping. What is the smallest square into which we can fit 3 circles of diameter 1 unit?

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Round and Round

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

Prove that the shaded area of the semicircle is equal to the area of the inner circle.

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Matter of Scale

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

Prove Pythagoras Theorem using enlargements and scale factors.

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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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Rhombus in Rectangle

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

Take any rectangle ABCD such that AB > BC. The point P is on AB and Q is on CD. Show that there is exactly one position of P and Q such that APCQ is a rhombus.

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Similarly So

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

ABCD is a square. P is the midpoint of AB and is joined to C. A line from D perpendicular to PC meets the line at the point Q. Prove AQ = AD.

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Euclid's Algorithm II

Stage: 5

We continue the discussion given in Euclid's Algorithm I, and here we shall discover when an equation of the form ax+by=c has no solutions, and when it has infinitely many solutions.

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Where Do We Get Our Feet Wet?

Stage: 5

Professor Korner has generously supported school mathematics for more than 30 years and has been a good friend to NRICH since it started.

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Try to Win

Stage: 5

Solve this famous unsolved problem and win a prize. Take a positive integer N. If even, divide by 2; if odd, multiply by 3 and add 1. Iterate. Prove that the sequence always goes to 4,2,1,4,2,1...

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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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Telescoping Functions

Stage: 5

Take a complicated fraction with the product of five quartics top and bottom and reduce this to a whole number. This is a numerical example involving some clever algebra.

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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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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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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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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?