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

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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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More Sums of Squares

Stage: 5

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

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Modulus Arithmetic and a Solution to Dirisibly Yours

Stage: 5

Peter Zimmerman from Mill Hill County High School in Barnet, London gives a neat proof that: 5^(2n+1) + 11^(2n+1) + 17^(2n+1) is divisible by 33 for every non negative integer n.

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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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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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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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The Root Cause

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Prove that if a is a natural number and the square root of a is rational, then it is a square number (an integer n^2 for some integer n.)

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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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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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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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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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How Many Solutions?

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Find all the solutions to the this equation.

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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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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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Big, Bigger, Biggest

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Which is the biggest and which the smallest of $2000^{2002}, 2001^{2001} \text{and } 2002^{2000}$?

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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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N000ughty Thoughts

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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The Golden Ratio, Fibonacci Numbers and Continued Fractions.

Stage: 4

An iterative method for finding the value of the Golden Ratio with explanations of how this involves the ratios of Fibonacci numbers and continued fractions.

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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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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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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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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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Modular Fractions

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

We only need 7 numbers for modulus (or clock) arithmetic mod 7 including working with fractions. Explore how to divide numbers and write fractions in modulus arithemtic.

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Archimedes and Numerical Roots

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

The problem is how did Archimedes calculate the lengths of the sides of the polygons which needed him to be able to calculate square roots?

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Prime AP

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

What can you say about the common difference of an AP where every term is prime?

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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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Proximity

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

We are given a regular icosahedron having three red vertices. Show that it has a vertex that has at least two red neighbours.

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Tetra Inequalities

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Prove that in every tetrahedron there is a vertex such that the three edges meeting there have lengths which could be the sides of a triangle.

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Road Maker 2

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

Can you work out where the blue-and-red brick roads end?

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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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Composite Notions

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

A composite number is one that is neither prime nor 1. Show that 10201 is composite in any base.

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Rhombus in Rectangle

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

Take any rectangle ABCD such that AB > BC. The point P is on AB and Q is on CD. Show that there is exactly one position of P and Q such that APCQ is a rhombus.

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Without Calculus

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Given that u>0 and v>0 find the smallest possible value of 1/u + 1/v given that u + v = 5 by different methods.

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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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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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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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Matter of Scale

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

Prove Pythagoras' Theorem using enlargements and scale factors.

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Generally Geometric

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

Generalise the sum of a GP by using derivatives to make the coefficients into powers of the natural numbers.

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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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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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Circle Box

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

It is obvious that we can fit four circles of diameter 1 unit in a square of side 2 without overlapping. What is the smallest square into which we can fit 3 circles of diameter 1 unit?

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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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Round and Round

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

Prove that the shaded area of the semicircle is equal to the area of the inner circle.

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Pareq Exists

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

Prove that, given any three parallel lines, an equilateral triangle always exists with one vertex on each of the three lines.