7
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Here are 6 matchsticks.

Matchsticks

You should rearrange them, to make nothing

But you should not waste or get other matchsticks

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ lateral thinking? $\endgroup$ – Oray Jul 24 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Oray What is lateral thinking? A Tag? $\endgroup$ – math Jul 24 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ "5 matchsticks"? I see 6...! $\endgroup$ – Stiv Jul 24 at 9:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Stiv Sorry. number mistake. $\endgroup$ – math Jul 24 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ "out-of-the-box thinking" - Does that mean we can use the matchbox to solve the puzzle? If so, it's easy. $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Jul 24 at 14:01
17
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With all these mathematics going on, I have nothing to add:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Why didn't I think about this? Nix means nothing in german too. $\endgroup$ – math Jul 24 at 14:09
17
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I think this might be the answer you had in mind! This is I think is the most canonical of my attempts. No change in character size and only using basic arithmetic without repeating or "abusing" operations

enter image description here

Here is one which makes use of powers and some "abuse" of operations.

enter image description here

Here we get a little more abstract. Summing from 1 to 1, i.e. summing over an empty set, i.e. nothing!

enter image description here

Here go further down the abstraction hole. An object that does not exist! $F_n$ is a common standard notation for the finite field of $n$ elements. Here we have supposed the field of $\mathbb{V I}$ or 6 elements. But since 6 is a composite number that is not a power of primes, no such field exists!

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer. But there is still one more. $\endgroup$ – math Jul 24 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ I just used GIMP, its entirely free and open-source gimp.org. $\endgroup$ – Mark Murray Jul 24 at 9:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Deepthinker101 I don't see what you mean?, oh a "long 1. I don't like using the matchsticks to make mismatched sized characters, else we could make a big hexagon and call it zero. $\endgroup$ – Mark Murray Jul 24 at 9:34
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    $\begingroup$ Nit-pick: $\sum_1^1$ isn't really summing over the empty set; it's actually the single term corresponding to the index 1. $\endgroup$ – Ankoganit Jul 24 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ Good point! I always make this mistake by thinking of in terms of for loops. $\endgroup$ – Mark Murray Jul 24 at 15:47
17
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Okay, because there are so many answers, here is what I thought:

nil

NIL means in maths 0

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    $\begingroup$ I was just about to post that :/ $\endgroup$ – Magma Jul 24 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ I actually think the mathematics tag is misleading/unfitting here. Nil is almost never used as zero in mathematics. It is very commonly used in sporting events, especially British ones. $\endgroup$ – Mark Murray Jul 25 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Mark Ok, I changed the tag $\endgroup$ – math Jul 25 at 9:24
  • $\begingroup$ go language go language $\endgroup$ – zixuan Aug 9 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ @zixuan What does go language mean? $\endgroup$ – math Aug 10 at 14:34
8
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enter image description here

I think this works, I hope it is the right answer

If you break the match sticks

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes it works, but there is one more. $\endgroup$ – math Jul 24 at 9:01
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    $\begingroup$ Please rotate this picture 90 deg to the right $\endgroup$ – Prince Deepthinker Jul 24 at 9:13
  • $\begingroup$ Can someone help me edit this answer $\endgroup$ – Prince Deepthinker Jul 24 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ You are really a deep-thinker! I thought of another one. But I did not think that there would be three answers for one question! Nice answer. $\endgroup$ – math Jul 24 at 9:15
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks but I am not really a deep thinker compared to some the very smart fellows you find on here $\endgroup$ – Prince Deepthinker Jul 24 at 9:17
7
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Here's another

enter image description here

|0| or the absolute value of zero.

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  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I appreciate that you went to the effort of making the zero into Penrose stairs! +1 $\endgroup$ – Mark Murray Jul 24 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for noticing. I was going to change the orientation of the matches as well but it was taking me too long.. $\endgroup$ – MacGyver88 Jul 24 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ Dude they are not impossible, try them with your fingers. :) $\endgroup$ – zixuan Aug 9 at 21:17
7
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If we really want nothing, what could be better than

the empty set!

the empty set

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2
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Could the answer be:

1 / 1 = 1 Means nothing!
enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ There are meant to be 6 matchsticks $\endgroup$ – Mark Murray Jul 24 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkMurray I didn't realize, thanks! $\endgroup$ – ention everyone Jul 24 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ I think the author originally had 5 written down by accident $\endgroup$ – Mark Murray Jul 24 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ Mathematical identity is a cornerstone of algebra, so I'd hardly say that 1=1 means nothing - it is a vitally important foundation of mathematics. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Hoagie Jul 24 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearWang Yeah, but logically, it does :) $\endgroup$ – ention everyone Jul 24 at 18:14

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