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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Notty Logic

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Proofs with Pictures

Stage: 5

Some diagrammatic 'proofs' of algebraic identities and inequalities.

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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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?