Puzzles, curiosities, brain teasers and other mathematics done "just for fun".

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13
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200 views

Sheldon Cooper Primes

On the $73^{\text{rd}}$ episode of the Big Bang Theory, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, an astrophysicist portrayed by Jim Parsons $(1973 - \stackrel{\text{hopefully}}{2073})$ revealed his favorite number to be ...
10
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1k views

This should be a piece of cake… right?

You probably know the following problem: We have two circular cakes of the same height but unknown and potentially different radii, and we want to cut them into two equal shares. Each cut can only ...
9
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175 views

Are there known pairs of simple numbers equal to huge precision, but not equal strictly?

Are there known pairs of numbers $a$ and $b$, which at first look at them seemed likely to be equal, and after checking up to $10^n$ decimal places appeared to agree, but suddenly for some $n$ they ...
9
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184 views

What turmite runs the longest before becoming predictable?

When looking at 2D Turing machines, many of them eventually become predictable. For example, Langton's Ant, the champion 2-color 1-state turmite, develops a highway after 10,000 steps. Predictable ...
8
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165 views

Number of circles in configuration

Consider the $n^2$ lattice points $(i, j)$, where $1 \leq i, j \leq n$. Let the number of circles that pass through at least 3 points of this set be $C(n)$. What is a good way to count this? Is there ...
7
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66 views

For what numbers is $a_{b}= b_{a}$? (Reference?)

A student recently asked me about solutions to the equation $$a_{b} = b_{a},$$ where the subscript notation $a_{b}$ denotes interpreting the digits of $a$ in base $b$. It turns out there are tons of ...
7
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131 views

Mathematics of the Ice Bucket Challenge

I've been considering the mathematics of the now global ice bucket challenge. Simple model In the simplest incarnation, there is one original seed, who then nominates 3 others, each of which take ...
7
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116 views

Knight's metric: ellipse and parabola.

Knight's metric is a metric on $\mathbb{Z}^2$ as the minimum number of moves a chess knight would take to travel from $x$ to $y\in\mathbb{Z}^2$. What does a parabola (or an ellipse) became with this ...
7
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246 views

Prime factor of $2 \uparrow \uparrow 4 + 3\uparrow \uparrow 4$

I checked the prime factors of $$2 \uparrow \uparrow 4 + 3\uparrow \uparrow 4 = 2^{2^{2^2}} + 3^{3^{3^3}}$$ with trial division and found non below $8*10^9$ Nevertheless, the given number has still ...
7
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521 views

Solution manual to Larson's “Problem Solving through Problems”

I am working through Larson's "Problem Solving through Problems" (http://math.la.asu.edu/~ifulman/mat194/problem-solving.pdf) but many of the problems have neither solutions nor sources included. Does ...
7
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96 views

Generalization of Gray codes

A friend of mine asked me if it was possible - physical difficulties aside - to generate all 32 combinations of raised/lowered fingers by changing status of a fixed number of fingers at every step. ...
7
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128 views

Take an m x n grid, and in each box pick two opposite corners at random to connect. What can be said about the resulting pattern?

Inspired by the upcoming book 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 by Nick Montfort et al., whose title derives from this particular example of emergent behavior. Here's an example: (Note that ...
6
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89 views

Name of a certain set

I want to know if there is any already-standard way to refer to the sets described as follows. For a set $X$, let $-X = \{-x: x \in X \}$; call it the negative of $X$. Take the set of all primes in ...
6
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166 views

Math Behind the Dragon Illusion!

Dragon illusion has been one of the items presented in the 3rd "Gathering for Gardner". This video shows the illusion. What does it have to do with mathematics?
6
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135 views

Card passing game, maximum length

Quoting from this question: There are 25 people sitting around a table and each person has two cards. One of the numbers 1,2,..., 25 is written on each card, and each number occurs on exactly two ...
5
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0answers
152 views

Coding Theory Problem to save Humanity

For starters, this problem doesn't originate from me, it's a friend's coding theory problem and I got interested, thinking about it, but I can't think of any as I only have very basic coding theory ...
5
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294 views

Paul Erdős Joke.

I was watching the great documentary "$N$ is a Number" and in it Erdős tells a joke where he writes: PGOM LD AD LD CD Which means poor great old man, living dead, archeological discovery, legally ...
5
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82 views

Conway's Game of Life

Is there a mathematical way to directly calculate iteration n from the first iteration skipping calculating the iterations in between in Conway's Game of Life? I would assume, if it is possible, it ...
5
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85 views

Integer weights used to cover all numbers from 1 to N with redundancies in case of breakage

Bachet's Problem (arxiv) is a famous problem where we have to find the smallest set of positive integers such that they measure every number between 1 and 40. This can be generalized to every integer ...
5
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179 views

$2, 5, 13, 17, 29, 421, 401, 53, 281,…,\rightarrow \infty$? $a_{n+1}=\operatorname{ GPF}(qa_n+p)$

I denote by $\operatorname{ GPF}(n)$ the greatest prime factor of $n$, eg. $\operatorname{ GPF}(17)=17$, $\operatorname{ GPF}(18)=3$. Is there a way to prove that the sequence $a_{n+1}=\operatorname{ ...
4
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0answers
39 views

Placing $4n$ non-attaking queens of in a $4n \times 4n$ chessboard.

Is it possible to place $4n$ non-attaking queens of in a $4n \times 4n$ chessboard?? I have found that it can be done for $4 \times 4$ chess board and trying to extend it to $8 \times 8$ chessboard ...
4
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0answers
45 views

Algorithm for finding “fact families”

My friend's 3rd grader encountered the following question regarding "fact families" on her math homework: I was in 3rd grade sometime in the 1980s, so I don't believe I ever encountered this term ...
4
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61 views

Quantifying infinitely large sums such as $\sum_{x\in\mathbb{R}^+} x$

I thought of this as a student in calculus years ago, and it may be a silly kind of question. I wondered if there were notions of different sizes of infinity a series might sum to, which then lead me ...
4
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0answers
90 views

Can -9 to 9 be placed in 41 lines of zero?

The cubic curve $2x^3-4x^2y+2xy^2-8x+y^3-y$ can be used to get lattice points allowing the placement of the numbers $-8$ to $8$ so that all 32 triplets that sum to 0 will be a straight line of three. ...
4
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0answers
120 views

Folding sheets of paper

You have $n\in\mathbb{N}^*$ sheets of paper with dimensions $a,b\in\mathbb{R}_+^*$ that can be folded as many times as needed. What is the set of lengths in $\left]0,\sqrt{a^2+b^2}\right]$ one can ...
4
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0answers
89 views

Binomial triplets

Solutions to the equation $$\dbinom{a}{n}+\dbinom{b}{n}=\dbinom{c}{n}$$ I will refer to as 'Binomial triplets of order $n$'. These triplets describe simplicial $n$-polytopic numbers that can be ...
4
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92 views

A game on a smaller graph

In this question Alice and Bob play a game on $K_{2014}$, Alice directing one edge, Bob directing $1$ to $1000$ edges with Alice trying to make a cycle. The proof that Alice can win depended on the ...
4
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0answers
46 views

Derangements and the “other” secretary problem

I just found out that the name "Secretary problem" is given to two different problems. The first one talks about a secretary who mixes letters and envelopes, and ask for the probability that no letter ...
4
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0answers
170 views

Measuring how change in input variables contributes to output in non linear equation.

How do we measure how a variable contributes to an output as its value increases, and how it relates to other input variables? Let's say we're playing a video game, where you can buy items to augment ...
4
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0answers
121 views

Card game probability

Suppose the following solitaire with a standard deck. I turn four cards visible on the board and on each turn, I remove those suits that appears more than once in the board. Then I fill the board such ...
4
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64 views

Finding every $n$ such that $n\times$ ('reverse' number of $n)=m^2$ such as $1584\times 4851={2772}^2$

Let $r(n)$ be the 'reverse' number of $n$ in the decimal system. For example, $r(1234)=4321$. Then, here is my question. Question : Can we find every $n(\in\mathbb N)$, which is not a square ...
4
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0answers
360 views

MRB constant proofs wanted

This article has been edited for a bounty. $C$ MRB, the MRB constant, is defined at http://mathworld.wolfram.com/MRBConstant.html . There is an excellent 56 page paper whose author has passed away. ...
4
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0answers
160 views

Can we get a 'good' approximate value of $\sqrt 2$ by an equation which uses each of $1,2,\cdots,9$ once such as $12653\div 8947\approx1.414217$?

I've been interested in representing $\sqrt 2\approx 1.414213562373095$ by an equation which uses each of $1,2,\cdots,9$ once. Suppose that the following conditions must be satisfied. Then, can we get ...
4
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0answers
78 views

Arbitrary ratio sequences on a partition of $\mathbb{R}$ (Partition regularity of fixed ratio sequences)

Background: This question arose purely recreationally and doesn't really fit into any context that I know of. Let $A \sqcup B = \mathbb{R}$ be a partition of the ...
4
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0answers
310 views

“Green Globs” question

When I was in high school geometry, we had a fun little game on the computer called Green Globs (the website for the software is http://www.greenglobs.net/index.html). A number of targets (globs) are ...
4
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0answers
178 views

Which chapters of Euclid's elements would be helpful for drawing a grid?

I am drawing a $19 \times 19$ grid on my desk. For aesthetic purposes, I don't want to use a ruler. Rather, I want to use Euclidean theorems to 'prove' to myself that such and such line meets at a ...
4
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0answers
155 views

Is the maximal temperature of the curlicue fractal acheived by $e\times\gamma$?

The Curlicue Fractal is defined as follows: Choose an irrational number $s$ and a horizontal unit segment with angle $\phi_0 = 0$. Define $\theta_{n+1} = \theta_{n} + 2 \pi s \pmod{2 \pi}$, with ...
3
votes
0answers
36 views

Points Distributed evenly around a circle: how many points are in each region?

A circle of circumference $2$ is split into three arcs of length $\frac{2}{3}$ (so the regions are $[0,\frac{2}{3})$, $[ \frac{2}{3},\frac{4}{3})$, $[\frac{4}{3},2)$, $2$ identifies with $0$) and ...
3
votes
0answers
77 views

Axioms as recreational mathematics

Before modern group theory, mathematicians studied concrete permutation groups: algebraically closed subsets of the set of all bijections on a set $X$ in which all inverses was included. This was the ...
3
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0answers
55 views

Bitcoin math problem example

Disclaimer: I'm not a mathematician, if something is complicated, please use layman's terms. Thank you. I'm wondering about this bitcoin thing. I have heard that mining is using a computer to solve ...
3
votes
0answers
130 views

$Z_n \backslash \{0\}$ splits into octets

Let $n=8m+1, m\in\mathbb{N}$. Does the set of nonzero elements of $\mathbb{Z}_n$ split into disjoint octets of the form $8_k=\{\pm a_k,\pm b_k,\pm a_k\pm b_k\}$? The computer tells me it is possible ...
3
votes
0answers
108 views

Interesting Number Game

Let's say you are given some random positive integer. Next, assume you are given the following sequence of integers: $$[1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].$$ Now, assume you are allowed to use the following ...
3
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0answers
71 views

Josephus Variant

I set myself the challenge of trying to solve a variant of trying to solve a variant of the josephus problem where instead of killing every second person, every third person dies. The formula for the ...
3
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0answers
179 views

Limits of infinite processes that terminate in finite time - checking my understanding?

I am a computer scientist by training, but have a fair amount of math background that I've picked up through classes, teaching, and general interest. A student of mine posed a question to me. I think ...
3
votes
0answers
182 views

Prime factor of $14 \uparrow \uparrow 3 + 15\uparrow \uparrow 3$ wanted

Checking the prime factors of the numbers $$z(a,b) \ := a \uparrow \uparrow 3 \ +\ b \uparrow \uparrow 3 \ ,$$ a,b positive integers with a < b the number $$z(14,15) = 14 \uparrow \uparrow ...
3
votes
0answers
79 views

Clarification of the Jacobian

Well, that was cool if not tedious but I understand the Jacobian and its application to changing coordinate systems. $${J_{POLAR}= \rho}$$ $$ {J_{cyl}= \rho}$$ and $${J_{sphere}=\rho^2\sin\phi}$$ ...
3
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0answers
212 views

Help explain why (or why not) the solution for a in $\sum_{n=1}^\infty (-1)^n\times(n^{1/n}-a)=0$ is 1-2$C$MRB

$C$MRB is approximately 0.1878596424620671202485179340542732. See this and this. $\sum_{n=1}^\infty (-1)^n\times(n^{1/n}-a)$ is formally convergent only when $a =1$. However, if you extend the ...
3
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0answers
213 views

Guilloché security printing — can it be cracked?

Money uses Security printing, and often uses Guilloché patterns. These curves are inscribed by wheels on wheels on wheels, ten wheels deep in some cases. For example, the back of the US $1 bill has ...
3
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0answers
112 views

A photon in expanding Universe (a snail on a tree)

I want to know how far a snail can reach in expanding universe. It has a constant speed c = 1 and tree is expanding at speed $v= H_0 D$, with Hubble constant $H_0 = 1$. Here D(T) is the distance of ...
3
votes
0answers
39 views

How to find the point in a closed geometrical figure which maximizes the “direct-line-of-sight function”

To expand upon the title, and put it in clear terms, I phrase the problem thusly: Consider the interior of any continuous, closed, non-self-intersecting curve in the plane. (I'm not sure if I'm ...