The first of five articles concentrating on whole number dynamics, ideas of general dynamical systems are introduced and seen in concrete cases.
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. . . .
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?
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.
With n people anywhere in a field each shoots a water pistol at the
nearest person. In general who gets wet? What difference does it
make if n is odd or even?
If x + y = -1 find the largest value of xy by coordinate geometry, by calculus and by algebra.
Take any two numbers between 0 and 1. Prove that the sum of the
numbers is always less than one plus their product?
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.
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.
I am exactly n times my daughter's age. In m years I shall be exactly (n-1) times her age. In m2 years I shall be exactly (n-2) times her age. After that I shall never again be an exact multiple of. . . .
Professor Korner has generously supported school mathematics for more than 30 years and has been a good friend to NRICH since it started.
A serious but easily readable discussion of proof in mathematics with some amusing stories and some interesting examples.
An article about the strategy for playing The Triangle Game which
appears on the NRICH site. It contains a simple lemma about
labelling a grid of equilateral triangles within a triangular
You have twelve weights, one of which is different from the rest.
Using just 3 weighings, can you identify which weight is the odd
one out, and whether it is heavier or lighter than the rest?
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. . . .
Eulerian and Hamiltonian circuits are defined with some simple examples and a couple of puzzles to illustrate Hamiltonian circuits.
Here the diagram says it all. Can you find the diagram?
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.
Three equilateral triangles ABC, AYX and XZB are drawn with the
point X a moveable point on AB. The points P, Q and R are the
centres of the three triangles. What can you say about triangle
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.
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.
When if ever do you get the right answer if you add two fractions
by adding the numerators and adding the denominators?
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.
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.
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. . . .
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...
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.
Follow the hints and prove Pick's Theorem.
An article which gives an account of some properties of magic squares.
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.
An inequality involving integrals of squares of functions.
Find all positive integers a and b for which the two equations:
x^2-ax+b = 0 and x^2-bx+a = 0 both have positive integer solutions.
Patterns that repeat in a line are strangely interesting. How many types are there and how do you tell one type from another?
Take a number, add its digits then multiply the digits together,
then multiply these two results. If you get the same number it is
an SP number.
Peter Zimmerman, a Year 13 student at Mill Hill County High School
in Barnet, London wrote this account of modulus arithmetic.
Show that if you add 1 to the product of four consecutive numbers
the answer is ALWAYS a perfect square.
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. . . .
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?
This problem is a sequence of linked mini-challenges leading up to the proof of a difficult final challenge, encouraging you to think mathematically. Starting with one of the mini-challenges, how. . . .
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. . . .
Have a go at being mathematically negative, by negating these
Advent Calendar 2011 - a mathematical activity for each day during the run-up to Christmas.
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?
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?
An introduction to some beautiful results of Number Theory
Prove that in every tetrahedron there is a vertex such that the
three edges meeting there have lengths which could be the sides of
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.
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. . . .
Show that for natural numbers x and y if x/y > 1 then x/y>(x+1)/(y+1}>1. Hence prove that the product for i=1 to n of [(2i)/(2i-1)] tends to infinity as n tends to infinity.