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

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Even So

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Find some triples of whole numbers a, b and c such that a^2 + b^2 + c^2 is a multiple of 4. Is it necessarily the case that a, b and c must all be even? If so, can you explain why?

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Elevenses

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?

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What Numbers Can We Make?

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?

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Adding All Nine

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Make a set of numbers that use all the digits from 1 to 9, once and once only. Add them up. The result is divisible by 9. Add each of the digits in the new number. What is their sum? Now try some. . . .

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Mod 3

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Prove that if a^2+b^2 is a multiple of 3 then both a and b are multiples of 3.

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What Numbers Can We Make Now?

Stage: 3 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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Take Three from Five

Stage: 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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Power Mad!

Stage: 3 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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A Biggy

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Find the smallest positive integer N such that N/2 is a perfect cube, N/3 is a perfect fifth power and N/5 is a perfect seventh power.

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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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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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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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One O Five

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

You can work out the number someone else is thinking of as follows. Ask a friend to think of any natural number less than 100. Then ask them to tell you the remainders when this number is divided by. . . .

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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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N000ughty Thoughts

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

How many noughts are at the end of these giant numbers?

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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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Diophantine N-tuples

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you explain why a sequence of operations always gives you perfect squares?

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Unit Fractions

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

Consider the equation 1/a + 1/b + 1/c = 1 where a, b and c are natural numbers and 0 < a < b < c. Prove that there is only one set of values which satisfy this equation.

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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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Towering Trapeziums

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

Can you find the areas of the trapezia in this sequence?

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Janine's Conjecture

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

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. . . .

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Cycle It

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Carry out cyclic permutations of nine digit numbers containing the digits from 1 to 9 (until you get back to the first number). Prove that whatever number you choose, they will add to the same total.

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For What?

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

Prove that if the integer n is divisible by 4 then it can be written as the difference of two squares.

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Sticky Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you arrange the numbers 1 to 17 in a row so that each adjacent pair adds up to a square number?

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Largest Product

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Which set of numbers that add to 10 have the largest product?

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1 Step 2 Step

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Liam's house has a staircase with 12 steps. He can go down the steps one at a time or two at time. In how many different ways can Liam go down the 12 steps?

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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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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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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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Iffy Logic

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

Can you rearrange the cards to make a series of correct mathematical statements?

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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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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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Add 3 Dice

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

Three dice are placed in a row. Find a way to turn each one so that the three numbers on top of the dice total the same as the three numbers on the front of the dice. Can you find all the ways to do. . . .

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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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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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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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Why 24?

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

Take any prime number greater than 3 , square it and subtract one. Working on the building blocks will help you to explain what is special about your results.

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Online

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A game for 2 players that can be played online. Players take it in turns to select a word from the 9 words given. The aim is to select all the occurrences of the same letter.

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Common Divisor

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Find the largest integer which divides every member of the following sequence: 1^5-1, 2^5-2, 3^5-3, ... n^5-n.

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Multiplication Square

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

Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?

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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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Always Perfect

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

Show that if you add 1 to the product of four consecutive numbers the answer is ALWAYS a perfect square.

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Long Short

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

What can you say about the lengths of the sides of a quadrilateral whose vertices are on a unit circle?

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Our Ages

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

I am exactly n times my daughter's age. In m years I shall be ... How old am I?

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Never Prime

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

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.

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Tower of Hanoi

Stage: 3 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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Greetings

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

From a group of any 4 students in a class of 30, each has exchanged Christmas cards with the other three. Show that some students have exchanged cards with all the other students in the class. How. . . .

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Converse

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

Clearly if a, b and c are the lengths of the sides of an equilateral triangle then a^2 + b^2 + c^2 = ab + bc + ca. Is the converse true?

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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...

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Aba

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

In the following sum the letters A, B, C, D, E and F stand for six distinct digits. Find all the ways of replacing the letters with digits so that the arithmetic is correct.