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

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Transitivity

Stage: 5

Suppose A always beats B and B always beats C, then would you expect A to beat C? Not always! What seems obvious is not always true. Results always need to be proved in mathematics.

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Russian Cubes

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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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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Magic W Wrap Up

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Prove that you cannot form a Magic W with a total of 12 or less or with a with a total of 18 or more.

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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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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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Doodles

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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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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Mind Your Ps and Qs

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

Sort these mathematical propositions into a series of 8 correct statements.

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Cyclic Quad Jigsaw

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

A picture is made by joining five small quadrilaterals together to make a large quadrilateral. Is it possible to draw a similar picture if all the small quadrilaterals are cyclic?

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Air Nets

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

Can you visualise whether these nets fold up into 3D shapes? Watch the videos each time to see if you were correct.

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Tower of Hanoi

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

The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns you notice.

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Cube Net

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

How many tours visit each vertex of a cube once and only once? How many return to the starting point?

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N000ughty Thoughts

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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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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Triangle Incircle Iteration

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

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. . . .

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Impossible Triangles?

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

Which of these triangular jigsaws are impossible to finish?

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Dalmatians

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

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.

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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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Three Frogs

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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Sixational

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

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. . . .

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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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Breaking the Equation ' Empirical Argument = Proof '

Stage: 2, 3, 4 and 5

This article stems from research on the teaching of proof and offers guidance on how to move learners from focussing on experimental arguments to mathematical arguments and deductive reasoning.

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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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Take Three from Five

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

Caroline and James pick sets of five numbers. Charlie chooses three of them that add together to make a multiple of three. Can they stop him?

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Notty Logic

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Have a go at being mathematically negative, by negating these statements.

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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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Proofs with Pictures

Stage: 5

Some diagrammatic 'proofs' of algebraic identities and inequalities.

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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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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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Classifying Solids Using Angle Deficiency

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

Toni Beardon has chosen this article introducing a rich area for practical exploration and discovery in 3D geometry

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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 orf two or more cubes.

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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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Modulus Arithmetic and a Solution to Differences

Stage: 5

Peter Zimmerman, a Year 13 student at Mill Hill County High School in Barnet, London wrote this account of modulus arithmetic.

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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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Magic Squares II

Stage: 4 and 5

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

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Recent Developments on S.P. Numbers

Stage: 5

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.