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

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Problem Solving, Using and Applying and Functional Mathematics

Stage: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Problem solving is at the heart of the NRICH site. All the problems give learners opportunities to learn, develop or use mathematical concepts and skills. Read here for more information.

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Stonehenge

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Explain why, when moving heavy objects on rollers, the object moves twice as fast as the rollers. Try a similar experiment yourself.

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Truth Tables and Electronic Circuits

Stage: 2, 3 and 4

Investigate circuits and record your findings in this simple introduction to truth tables and logic.

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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. . . .

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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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Quadratic Harmony

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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.

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The Great Weights Puzzle

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

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?

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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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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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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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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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Mechanical Integration

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

To find the integral of a polynomial, evaluate it at some special points and add multiples of these 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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More Sums of Squares

Stage: 5

Tom writes about expressing numbers as the sums of three squares.

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Power Quady

Stage: 5 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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Integral Inequality

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

An inequality involving integrals of squares of functions.

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Water Pistols

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

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?

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Sperner's Lemma

Stage: 5

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 frame.

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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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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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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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Gift of Gems

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Four jewellers possessing respectively eight rubies, ten saphires, a hundred pearls and five diamonds, presented, each from his own stock, one apiece to the rest in token of regard; and they. . . .

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Binomial

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

By considering powers of (1+x), show that the sum of the squares of the binomial coefficients from 0 to n is 2nCn

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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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Long Short

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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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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Exhaustion

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Find the positive integer solutions of the equation (1+1/a)(1+1/b)(1+1/c) = 2

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Polite Numbers

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A polite number can be written as the sum of two or more consecutive positive integers. Find the consecutive sums giving the polite numbers 544 and 424. What characterizes impolite numbers?

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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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Pair Squares

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

The sum of any two of the numbers 2, 34 and 47 is a perfect square. Choose three square numbers and find sets of three integers with this property. Generalise to four integers.

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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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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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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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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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Basic Rhythms

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

Explore a number pattern which has the same symmetries in different bases.

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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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Diverging

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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.

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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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Tree Graphs

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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Sums of Squares and Sums of Cubes

Stage: 5

An account of methods for finding whether or not a number can be written as the sum of two or more squares or as the sum of two or more cubes.

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Diophantine N-tuples

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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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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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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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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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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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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Dodgy Proofs

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

These proofs are wrong. Can you see why?

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Interpolating Polynomials

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

Given a set of points (x,y) with distinct x values, find a polynomial that goes through all of them, then prove some results about the existence and uniqueness of these polynomials.

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The Clue Is in the Question

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

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. . . .

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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.