How do you make $21$ from the numbers $1$, $5$, $6$, and $7$?

  • You can use the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as brackets.
  • You must use each number exactly once.
  • You cannot juxtapose numbers (i.e., 1 and 5 cannot be used as 15).
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I would answer, but I found this link from another site that asks the same question. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 15:59
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ meta.puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/1348/… $\endgroup$
    – nicael
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 16:00
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I thought the issue was with copying copyrighted material verbatim, without permission or attribution. I don't see plagiarism here. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ I am not talking specifically about this question, but the very fact that googling gives you answers cannot be a criterion for deletion is my contention $\endgroup$
    – skv
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 16:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If being able to Google a puzzle is reason for deletion, then probably the vast majority of questions on this site would have to be deleted. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 16:27

3 Answers 3


If this is an acceptable question, here is the answer:


This is a pretty well known problem that, while the math obviously works, is unintuitive enough that it is sometimes difficult to solve the first time you see it.



$1 = \frac{5}{7} + \frac{6}{21}$

and rearrange.


I came across this question a long time ago and after struggling with it came up with this:

$ \binom {6 + 1}{7 - 5}$

which is

$\frac {7!}{2!5!}= \frac {7 \times 6}{2} = 21$


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