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Questions tagged [mathematics]

A puzzle strongly related to mathematical facts and objects, or whose solution needs serious mathematical arguments. General mathematics questions are off-topic but can be asked on Mathematics Stack Exchange.

149
votes
1answer
7k views

Chaos and Order: a visual puzzle in stained glass

I created a visual puzzle, which my wife then implemented as part of a stained-glass window. I've no idea if it is (a) obvious, (b) stupid or hopefully (c) extremely clever, and hence would love to ...
123
votes
8answers
31k views

How can 64 = 65?

Here is a interesting picture with two arrangements of four shapes. How can they make a different area with the same shapes?
118
votes
8answers
19k views

The Sheikh dies

The Sheikh dies, leaving behind three sons, 17 camels and the following order: His oldest son shall inherit one in two camels. His middle son shall inherit one in three camels. His youngest son shall ...
114
votes
9answers
18k views

Paying the Troll toll

You are on your way to visit your Grandma, who lives at the end of the valley. It's her birthday, and you want to give her the cakes you've made. Between your house and her house, you have to cross 7 ...
108
votes
6answers
23k views

100 Prisoners' Names in Boxes

Names in Boxes The names of 100 prisoners are placed in 100 wooden boxes, one name to a box, and the boxes are lined up on a table in a room. One by one, the prisoners are led into the room;...
90
votes
8answers
6k views

Make all the statements true

Can you make all the below statements true with a single click? If yes, explain how. Three + Eleven = Ten Seven + Five = Six Two + Four = Eight NB: Single click means, with only a single left mouse ...
78
votes
18answers
14k views

Nine gangsters and a gold bar

One night nine gangsters stole a gold bar. When the time came for dividing the bar, they faced a problem: two of the criminals put guns to each other's faces. Now it's up to fate whether one of them ...
76
votes
7answers
17k views

Why does this solution guarantee that the prince knocks on the right door to find the princess?

I found this puzzle online: On the top floor of a castle lives a princess. The floor has 17 bedrooms arranged in a row. Each bedroom has doors connecting to the adjoining bedrooms as well as to the ...
75
votes
10answers
17k views

10 Prisoners, 10 Keys, and 7 Years

One day, the warden of a prison is, like most wardens in puzzles, feeling a little bit capricious and decides that he wants to get rid of his prisoners, one way or another. He gathers all the ...
67
votes
5answers
6k views

Can the Policeman catch the Thief?

The town of Squareshire has six streets: four sides of a square and the lines joining the midpoints of opposite sides. $\hskip2in$ A policeman is chasing a thief along these streets. If they are ...
65
votes
6answers
5k views

Bar-coded Message (Reverse Engineering)

This weekend, while totally minding my own business and in no way being suspicious, I just happened to come across the following interesting document: Left page: download as TIFF (100,203,616 bytes) /...
64
votes
2answers
5k views

Happy Pi-Day! Try to solve this “PiDoku”

To celebrate the Pi-Day (3/14) adequately, a challenging math puzzle must not be missing. Rules: Fill in the numbers 1-9 exactly once in every row, column, and region. On top of that, you need to ...
63
votes
3answers
4k views

A secret polynomial

Alice has a secret polynomial $P$ with positive integer coefficients. When Bob gives Alice a positive integer $n \neq 2016$, Alice replies with the value of $P(n)$. After doing this several times, Bob ...
62
votes
8answers
17k views

A walk of 3000 meters, but one foot has moved more, how so?

My math teacher has struck again. Here's his newest riddle: Today I went for a normal walk of 3000 meters. One of my feet had to move exactly 3000 meters. However, the second foot moved 3100 ...
61
votes
24answers
19k views

Make 0 0 0 0 = 8

Can you find a way to make: $0\ 0 \ 0 \ 0 = 8$ by adding any operations or symbols? You can use only these symbols: $+,\ -,\ *,\ !,\ /,\ \hat\, ,\ ()$. It is limited to this list, and ...
61
votes
15answers
9k views

2 Monkeys on a computer [closed]

(a) Two monkeys are typing capital letters (A-Z) randomly. The first stops typing when the word COCONUT appears as seven successive letters. The second stops typing when TUNOCOC appears; TUNOCOC is ...
60
votes
5answers
10k views

The Jeweller's Dilemma

You are well known as the best jeweller in Puzzovania; your shop is always well stocked and your pockets are always bulging. One day, the local 'godfather' of Puzzovania's organised crime comes into ...
60
votes
7answers
10k views

Three mathematicians are forever in Prison

I'm excited to share the following riddle. It was given to me more than two years ago and I finally solved it last summer (after not thinking about it for a long time). In my desperation, I tried to ...
54
votes
12answers
15k views

XOR - Is it possible to get a, b, c from a⊕b, b⊕c, a⊕c?

Just got a simple question from a friend; still thinking. Let's share it! Is it possible to get a, b, c when you have a⊕b, b⊕c, a⊕c ? where ⊕ is the boolean ...
54
votes
13answers
11k views

Making π from 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

There have been two other questions here and here that are similar to this one, but this changes the rules up a little. Your job is to approximate $\pi$ using the sequence of digits (in order): 1 2 ...
54
votes
10answers
41k views

A camel transporting bananas

A somewhat well-known puzzle is described as such: You have a pile of 3,000 bananas. You wish to transport them to a place 1,000 miles away on the back of a camel; however, the camel can only carry ...
53
votes
12answers
17k views

Are there eighteen or twenty bars in my castle?

Two friends, Mark and Rose, are very famous logicians; they are so clever that they can deduce any logic connection possible in a matter of minutes even from the most vague situation. Unfortunately, ...
52
votes
6answers
3k views

Can you explain these equations?

Anthony just got a new drone with an HD camera and microphone, and he is eager to test it out. He connects his computer to its wireless live video stream, opens up his window, and flies it outside. ...
51
votes
1answer
4k views

Mathematical Rebus

Mathematical Rebus II Mathematical Rebus III $$ 4\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}\frac{(-1)^n}{2n+1}\\ (-\infty,...,-1,0,1,...,\infty)\times(-\infty,...,-1,0,1,...,\infty)\\ \forall\begin{bmatrix}{-1}&{0}\\ ...
51
votes
3answers
3k views

The Case of the Miscalculating Calculator

At the Arithmetic Company, to try and cut down labor costs the administration commissioned a calculator to be made. The calculator was produced, and in the quality control division was tested with the ...
49
votes
8answers
15k views

The Cucumber Paradox

Suppose you have 100 lbs of cucumbers and these cucumbers consist of 99% water. You decide to leave the cucumbers in the sun for a while until they consist of 98% water. You bring the cucumbers back ...
49
votes
3answers
4k views

The vicious wizard…and you!

The vicious wizard Neville has trapped you in the middle of a magical circle of radius $10000$, and you have to find a way out. Every time you want to take a step (of length $1$) in a certain ...
48
votes
11answers
250k views

6, the magic number

Here's a fun (albeit difficult) one: Make these equations true using arithmetic operations: ...
48
votes
2answers
5k views

Six pyramids in a cube

This question is from the German mathematics competition Känguru der Mathematik. In this competition students have to solve 30 mathematical tasks like this in 90 minutes without calculator. Actually ...
47
votes
6answers
4k views

Eight coins for the fair king

You are responsible for creating new types of coins for the court. King respects the forgetful: he wants you to create 8 coins of different value, no more. King respects the feeble: he wants that any ...
46
votes
5answers
6k views

A man possesses a large quantity of stamps

James Joseph Sylvester was one the greatest British mathematicians of the 19th century, who made many fundamental contributions to number theory, combinatorics, and invariant theory. In 1884, he ...
45
votes
7answers
8k views

How many tries to roll a 6?

Suppose you roll a (fair, 6-sided, perfectly ordinary) die repeatedly until you roll a 6. As is well known, the expected (i.e., long-term average over many trials) number of rolls required is 6. Now ...
45
votes
7answers
13k views

Does the drunk man fall off the cliff? (a random walk problem)

A drunk man stands with a cliff one step to his left. He takes steps randomly left and right. Each step has probability $p$ of going left and probability $q=1-p$ of going right. Each step is the same ...
44
votes
10answers
139k views

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 = 100

The sequence of numbers $1\ 2\ 3\ 4\ 5\ 6\ 7\ 8\ 9$ has the property that you can insert mathematical operators in between the numbers from $1$ to $9$ and make the expression evaluate to 100. For ...
44
votes
7answers
5k views

The Circular Prison of Unknown Size

You are the president of a secret society of mathematicians with $n$ members, including yourself. No one in the society knows what $n$ is. The dictator of the world, in an effort to erase mathematics ...
43
votes
10answers
29k views

Can you make 1 1 1 1 = 5? [closed]

Can you find a way to make 1 1 1 1 = 5 by adding any operations or symbols? You can use symbols such as these: +, -, *, !, ^, (). It is not limited to this list. Good Luck! P.S. You can not add any ...
43
votes
11answers
12k views

Function that is 1 for all positive integers but 0 at 0

A friend of mine had a simple question (at least to state) that I thought I would share: can you, without the use of indicator functions, find a(n) (elementary) function that satisfies \begin{cases} ...
43
votes
8answers
9k views

Haters gonna hate

In a classroom, there are $20$ students and every student mutually hates exactly $3$ other students in the class. (If X hates Y, Y hates X as well.) The principal summons some of the students from ...
41
votes
17answers
8k views

A blanket for my baby snake

Mama snake wants to knit a blanket for little baby snake. She is not a dissipater and wants to make the blanket of a minimal size (area). But her baby snake is quite a lively baby and it always ...
41
votes
2answers
4k views

Ten numbers on a blackboard

The numbers 1 through 10 are written on a blackboard. You erase two numbers of your choice, and write their product plus their sum $$a,b \to ab+a+b$$ So, now there are nine numbers on the board. You ...
41
votes
4answers
2k views

Hamlet and the theatre

Hamlet is preparing a play to find out the truth about his father's death. The theatre has $2015$ numbered seats and can contain all the members of King Claudius's court. He gives to each member a ...
41
votes
4answers
4k views

Could you solve a chessboard math puzzle at gunpoint?

Professor Veryevil pointed the gun at Shirley Knowsalot. "And why shouldn't I just kill you now?" asked the professor. "What about your shtick where you always give the hero a math puzzle that ...
40
votes
2answers
4k views

The Non-Pythagorean Theorem

Everyone knows the Pythagorean theorem: In a right-angled triangle, the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. The ...
39
votes
22answers
8k views

Aproximating 100 by 6

You're a fan of pen & paper RPGs and have finally arranged a new playing group, recruited amongst your friends from the mathematical faculty. As a GameMaster (GM) you've assumed that all your ...
39
votes
3answers
4k views

The “M&M Sugar Rush” game

Suppose I have in my possession a incredibly large (almost infinitely large!) bag of M&Ms containing a uniform distribution of the 6 M&M colors. I'm bored, so I decide to play a game: I draw ...
39
votes
4answers
2k views

Pythagorean Chess: Knishops

In chess, Knights moves to squares a distance $\sqrt5$ away. Bishops move distances $\sqrt2$, $\sqrt8$, $\sqrt{18}$, etc. Both pieces are restricted to non-integer distance moves. Enter the Knishop, ...
39
votes
1answer
2k views

Polynomial game with Devil

You die, and awake in Hell. Satan awaits you, and has prepared a curious game. On a blackboard, he has written the polynomial $x^2+x+666$. He explains the rule: On each day at $12$ noon, you must ...
38
votes
6answers
3k views

Deciphering an Alien Signal

I have a strange problem that you may be able to help me with. I was recently hired by company that manages several communications satellites, and I've gotten stuck with the overnight shift. Earlier ...
37
votes
8answers
5k views

Who is our nearest planetary neighbor, on average?

Assume that the planets have circular orbits centered on the sun. Assume that the radius of the orbits is 0.39, 0.723, 1, and 1.524 for Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Assume also that there are no ...
36
votes
6answers
7k views

Chasing pirates

You are asleep on your boat on open sea. When you wake up you discover you have been robbed. A quick inspection of security cam footage reveals that the pirates who robbed you left your ship exactly ...