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

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16
votes
0answers
623 views

A strange little number - 6174.

Take a 4 digit number such that it isn't made out the same digit (1111, 2222, .. etc) Define an operation on such a four digit number by taking the largest number that can be constructed out of these ...
9
votes
0answers
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
votes
0answers
158 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
votes
0answers
173 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
votes
0answers
157 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
votes
0answers
91 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
votes
0answers
226 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
votes
0answers
118 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
votes
0answers
158 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
votes
0answers
77 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. ...
6
votes
0answers
119 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
votes
0answers
88 views

Geometrical question just for fun

Was puzzling with the following (home made) puzzle: Given the square $ABCD$ with $A = (1,1)$, $B = (1,-1)$, $C = (-1,-1)$ and $D = (-1,1)$ And given point $E = (0,2)$ What is the smallest (by ...
5
votes
0answers
134 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
votes
0answers
321 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
264 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
votes
0answers
77 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
votes
0answers
164 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
votes
0answers
31 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
67 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
votes
0answers
34 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
votes
0answers
159 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
votes
0answers
113 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
votes
0answers
63 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
votes
0answers
154 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
votes
0answers
71 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
votes
0answers
83 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
274 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
votes
0answers
172 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
votes
0answers
142 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
122 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
69 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
90 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
votes
0answers
64 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
votes
0answers
167 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
179 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
71 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
votes
0answers
211 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
votes
0answers
114 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
votes
0answers
316 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 who's author has passed away. ...
3
votes
0answers
108 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
37 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
615 views

Turning radius of a vehicle

What's the minimum turning radius of a vehicle, rectangular in shape, with length l units and width w units? One key point to consider, would be that, the inclination of the front wheels can be ...
3
votes
0answers
113 views

Is there a way to determine how many solution does “ The hundred Fowls problems” have looking at the coefficients?

I was looking at the different versions of the hundred fowls problems. I came across the problem posed by Chinese mathematicians posed in 5th century,and then Indians in 9th, 10th centuries. Alcuin of ...
3
votes
0answers
515 views

How many different chess-board situations can occur?

If you play a standard chess game on a normal $8 \cdot 8$ chess board with the usual rules: How many different "board representations" can exist? Upper bound: Well, you have 16+16 = 32 chess pieces ...
3
votes
0answers
100 views

Least characters in a numerical representation of integers

I was wondering what the shortest way to represent any given number is. For example, $387420489=9^9$. So, for this case, the smallest representation is of order 2 (2 numbers). Alternatively, ...
3
votes
0answers
210 views

What is known about functions of type $f(n+1) = f(n)^ {f(n)}$?

Update : having looked at Knut's Double Arrow Notation ( Thank you DJC), it seems that this question is nothing more than a frivourless wondering that should be undertaken by whom ever wonders it, it ...
2
votes
0answers
54 views

Factorial of Complex Values

Since the gamma function is an analytic continuation of the factorial function, we can find the factorial of complex values. How does one go about doing so? I've looked far and wide on the internet ...
2
votes
0answers
140 views

Homework Question for a 15 year old

My younger brother(age: 14 years 7 months) and his classmates were given a set of eight questions by his class-teacher, which included the following two questions: (i) Find, if you can, the fallacy ...
2
votes
0answers
86 views

Given a number of items, how many sets of three are there where no two sets are two thirds similar?

Sorry if the title isn't proper math-talk. Hopefully I can explain it better here. So let's say we have a set. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. I want to know how many groups of three can be made where no ...
2
votes
0answers
116 views

What are some cool projects that can be done in a high school math class?

I'm studying to be a secondary math teacher and will be starting student teaching next month (an algebra 2 class). It's difficult to find activities and projects that are actually informative and time ...