Since antiquity, mathematics has been an integral part of our everyday lives.
Our understanding of math, and the constant desire to enlarge the extent of our knowledge about the world has taken us far, so that today, the world as we know it would not be possible without maths.
Had you considered, though, that you can have fun while learning maths?
How can subjects such as algebra, fractions, and probability, be made more entertaining? With fun maths puzzles!
Most of us can’t resist a good riddle and solving difficult logic puzzles is a fantastic brain teaser.
That’s right, it is possible to practice maths while enjoying yourself! Whether an optical illusion, a picture puzzle or logic games, figuring out the answer to a tricky puzzle is a great way to improve your problem solving skills.
The mathematical pioneer Alan Turing broke the toughest of codes (Source: Wikipedia.org – Jon Callas)
In a quest to understand the world around him, man has employed maths in an effort to tease out tangible proofs. The history of mathematics is punctuated by great minds wrestling with the great enigmas of their time.
Mathematical puzzles and brainteasers combine reasoning with numbers, calculations and figures.
To solve such puzzles, one needn’t have the brain of a mathematical genius, but it is important to take a logical approach and apply the maths skills one has learnt in school at maths revision GCSE, from simple multiplication and division, quadratic equations and calculus.
So get ready to channel your inner mathematician, here are 5 challenging puzzles that may be encountered in maths classes:
There are 100 prisoners, sentenced to death, in a prison. Out of the blue, the prison’s director proposes a challenge
He assigns each prisoner a number between 1 and 100, then installs in his office a cabinet with 100 drawers, each containing a random number between 1 and 100, corresponding to those assigned to the prisoners.
Each number appears only once.
He asks each prisoner to open 50 drawers and check the number in each.
Once each prisoner has entered the office, he is forbidden from communicating with his fellow prisoners, nor to change the sequence of draws or leave any clues.
No prisoner will know what numbers the other inmates have seen.
The prison director gives two possible outcomes:
What is the chance that each prisoner finds the drawer corresponding to his number?
According to the law of mathematical probability, the chance that all would be pardoned is (1/2)100, or 0.0000000000000000000000000000008.
There is a clever strategy that offers the prisoners the chance to increase these odds, and live. What is it?
Matrices like those in the Raven’s test: A nonverbal group test used in educational settings
(Source: Frontiers in Psychology – Daniel Little et. al.)
Behind three characters called A, B and C hide 3 gods known as ‘true’, ‘false’ and ‘random’.
The ‘true’ god always responds with the truth, the ‘false’ god always lies and the ‘random’ one alternates unpredictably between the two.
The challenge is ‘simple’!: Discover the respective identities of A, B and C by asking only three questions to which the answer is either true or false.
Each question can only be asked of one god, but if you decide to question a single god more than once (a maximum of three times), the other gods will not be able to answer.
Your questions may be unrelated to each other.
When preparing his class for a mathematics competition, a teacher decides to offer his students a cake in the form of a triangle with three unequal sides.
He places an order with a cake shop, giving the measurements of the cake’s three sides.
The baker orders a box for the cake, giving the same measurements. When the cake is done, however, he finds that while the measurements have been respected, the shape is symmetrical, rather than identical, to that of its cake.
He calls the maths teacher to ask how he should cut the cake such that it fits in the box.
The teacher replies that two cuts will suffice.
How should these be made?
A cat and a mouse decide to play “heads or tails”.
To liven up the game, they decide to change the rules: Each player must choose a combination of 3 results (e.g. heads, tails, heads).
They toss the coin many times, and the first to see one of his combinations appear in three consecutive coin tosses wins the game.
the two players cannot choose the same combination.
The cat, feeling himself to be the stronger player, starts first. The mouse, the smarter of the two, decides to let him go ahead.
How can the chance of winning be increased, for each player?
There is a duck in the middle of a circular pond. At the edge of this pond is an impatient cat.
While the duck would like to taste the grass at the edge of the pond, the cat would very much like to taste the duck!
The cat doesn’t know how to swim, and is too afraid of water to enter the pond.
The duck, meanwhile, has wings which are too small to let him fly away.
Knowing that the cat can run four times faster than the duck can swim, is it possible for the duck to reach the edge of the pond without getting caught by the cat?
If you like fun maths games, word problems, mah-jong or brain-teasers, you’ll love these puzzles:
There are two possibilities: 3 + 3 = 6 and 8 – 3 = 5 (Source: Preplounge.com)
Answer: 100 (Source: 9gag.com)
Hint: the second digit is not important for the result.
Result = first digit * first digit, third digit * third digit
398 = 964 (3*3 8*8)
118 = 164 (1*1 8*8)
356 = 936 (3*3 6*6)
423 = 169 (4*4 3*3)
Man has always sought to understand the world in which he evolved.
He has researched untiringly, consulted countless tomes and debated with his contemporaries, to better understand the world of maths. Each answer has lead to more questions.
The desire to solve riddles is part of our genetic heritage: We are born to seek answers.
Why are we here, on Earth? Is there life after death? Who were the first humans? How did they live?
Since antiquity, some of the great mysteries rooted in maths and physics have eluded our understanding:
Breaking the Enigma code: The Imitation Game (Source: Flickr.com – Bagogames)
Becoming absorbed in maths problems can be a very good way for someone to forget their troubles.
To do so, you may need to use:
Should we all love maths and mathematical equations?
Why do they matter?
Why do some people turn off when it comes to this topic?
An Enigma decryption machine, called a “bombe” (Source: media.defense.gov – U.S. Air Force)
By now, hopefully, you’ll have seen, that maths lessons get your neurones firing! Why not find an online maths tutor with Superprof?
Equally as important, they provide us with a better understanding of our world.
Finally, when you know where to look, it’s easy to see the imprint of maths in our daily lives!
Share your maths riddles and answers in the comments!