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.

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36
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10answers
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Unsolved Maths Problems as Puzzles

On an internal wiki at work, people sometime post puzzles similar to those found on this website. Most of the questions are formulated as a story or word problems, but can be expressed mathematically ...
36
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5answers
6k views

Making 103 from 4 zeroes

As the title suggests, the puzzle here is making the number 103 by using exactly four 0s and the following operations: $+$ Addition $-$ Subtraction $\times$ Multiplication $\div$ Division $\sqrt{a}$ ...
36
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7answers
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A Surprising Circle Packing

A grocery store has a long, skinny box, with no top, that it uses to display soda. The box is two soda cans wide and 200 soda cans long. You can neatly fit 400 cans in this box, using two rows of 200, ...
36
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9answers
4k views

Filling an 11-by-11 square

Is it possible to fill the $121$ entries in an $11\times11$ square with the values $0,+1,-1$, so that the row sums and column sums are $22$ distinct numbers?
36
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6answers
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The subtraction game

Alice and Bob play a game that starts by Bob picking a secret integer $N\ge100$. Then the game goes through several rounds. In every round, Alice picks an integer $x\ge3$. Every number can be picked ...
35
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5answers
9k views

Measure 22 minutes with 7 and 13 minute hourglasses

You have two hourglass timers. One can measure 7 minutes and the other hourglass timer can measure 13 minutes. This means that it takes 7 minutes for the sand timer to completely empty the sand from ...
35
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5answers
2k views

Strategy to beat the Casino

Two players, $A$ and $B$, and the Casino play a game. It involves showing zeros or ones: each player picks $0/1$ and also the Casino picks $0/1$. If the Casino and both players $A$ and $B$ show the ...
35
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1answer
4k views

Ernie's automatic parking valet

I was helping Ernie out in his shed a while back, when his favorite screwdriver suddenly wore out. I offered to go and pick up a new one for him and Ernie thought it was a great opportunity to test-...
34
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11answers
8k views

Ten girls around a table

Ten girls are sitting around a table. Each of them picks a real number and whispers it to the two neighbors immediately to the left and to the right. (Hence: each girl communicates one number, and ...
34
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9answers
5k views

Can political debates really work?

In the far-off country of Politica, there are three main parties: the Left, the Right, and the Centre. In the last election, there were 19 million Left voters, 21 million Right voters, and 23 million ...
34
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2answers
3k views

What bases make this number square?

For what values of $x$ is the number $121$ a square in base $x$? This is a very easy question, but I still think it's pretty fun. Perhaps it's something to pass on to younger people who are taking ...
34
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4answers
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Display a number using a scientific calculator with most keys are stuck

Your have a scientific calculator such that most of the keys are unable to be pressed. The only keys that work are those for the functions $$ x^2 \;\; \sqrt{x} \;\; x!\;\; \exp\;\; \ln\;...
34
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3answers
5k views

Do better than chance

You and an opponent are playing the following game: Your opponent picks two different real numbers, however he wants to, and writes them on two cards, which he presents to you face down You choose ...
34
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6answers
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Gunfire at dawn

A group of ten bandits stand in a flat desert, with no pair the same distance apart. Tensions grow, and at the crack of dawn each bandit fires a single bullet at the bandit closest to him. All have ...
33
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21answers
12k views

3:3! It's a football score! [closed]

Given to me, by a friend: How would you make 20, using two threes? You may use any basic operation. And others, such as square roots (the symbol), factorials, etc. Any operation is allowed. Just ...
33
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5answers
7k views

Rendering the number 10,958 with the string 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Brazilian mathematician Inder Taneja has found a way of expressing every number between 1 and 11,111, except 10,958, by inserting mathematical operators in between the numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 and ...
33
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9answers
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Winning Strategy for the Magician and his Apprentice

There are $13$ upside-down opaque cups and $2$ balls, a magician and his apprentice and yourself. You decide under which cups to put the balls, and the objective of the magician is to find the two ...
33
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3answers
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Pirates and gold coins

A group of N pirates has come by a chest containing 200 gold coins. Their rules require that the coins be distributed by the following approach. The pirates are ranked from fiercest to meekest and ...
33
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1answer
2k views

Cut the disk with a hole in four equal pieces

Cut the shape below in four congruent pieces. The gray area is a hole. In non-mathematical terms, cut the white area in 4 pieces having the same shape, same size, possibly mirrored or rotated. Note:...
33
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9answers
4k views

Thirty genuine and seventy fake coins

In the country Curgonia, there are many types of fake coins and only a single type of genuine coins. The weights of these coins satisfy the following conditions: All genuine coins have the same ...
33
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2answers
713 views

lolcatz can haz ur infinit cheeseboard

This is a problem on an infinite chessboard with pieces called lolcatz. They can move like queens or knightriders, but have a strange disadvantage... ... you've never heard of knightriders? Well, ...
32
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18answers
11k views

Use 2, 0, 1 and 8 to make 109

Assemble a formula using the numbers $2$, $0$, $1$, and $8$ in any order that equals 109. You may use the operations $x + y$, $x - y$, $x \times y$, $x \div y$, $x!$, $\sqrt{x}$, $\sqrt[\leftroot{-2}\...
32
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12answers
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Mr. Hilbert and the Problem of the Erroneous Equation

Having had just checked into the Grand Hotel, Mr. Hilbert slumped into the hotel room armchair with relief. Finally he could have some peace and quiet and solve the quaint riddle his colleague gave ...
32
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6answers
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Why is this Simple Puzzle impossible to solve?

Connect each red circle with each black circle by drawing a line and the lines should not touch. From each red circle, 3 lines must be drawn which connect red circles with black circles, but the lines ...
32
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11answers
3k views

Coin weighing with a single weighing device

You have 12 coins which each weigh either 20 grams or 10 grams. Each is labelled from 1 to 12 so you can tell the coins apart. You have one weighing device as well. At each turn you can put as many ...
32
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3answers
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The Determinant Sudoku

The determinants of $2\times 2$ matrices are calculated this way: $$\det\begin{bmatrix}a & b \\c & d \end{bmatrix}=ad-bc$$ And here's the sudoku-determinant puzzle: What's the solution for ...
32
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8answers
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Will the ant reach the car?

A car starts distance 1 from a wall then drives away at constant speed $ c $. There is a length of elastic tied between the wall and the car. Remarkably this doesn't affect the motion of the car (in ...
32
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4answers
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Honest Monk Puzzle

Suppose you are on an island with 32 monks and you are told that one of the monks is always honest. Every day the monks say whether it is going to rain. You are required to say whether it is going to ...
32
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4answers
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The Devil's Brother

The 1933 movie "The Devil's Brother" (also known under the title "Fra Diavolo") takes place in the Northern Italy of the early 18th century. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy play the fierce robbers ...
32
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10answers
3k views

Variant of lion and 100 zebras

Note: This problem remains unsolved, as of 4 Feb 2018, so do try it out This a variation of this question by @Gamow Suppose there are $100$ lions and $100$ zebras. The lions function together as a ...
31
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8answers
10k views

How many cars does the millionaire have?

I had a logical riddle on a programming interview test which was something like this: In his garage a millionaire had cars, of which only 2 were not white, only 2 were not green and only 2 were not ...
31
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4answers
4k views

Happy pi day, everyone!

A baker is working a batch of dough. He shapes it into a cylinder of height a and radius z. What will the baker make from this volume of dough?
31
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3answers
7k views

Who drinks beer while running anyway?

A variant (I don't have the book in front of me, so this is a paraphrase) of this puzzle was in the book Brainteasers and Mindbenders, by Robert Hamilton. It has stuck in my mind since I read it in ...
31
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1answer
2k views

Professor Halfbrain and the sum of the digits of all divisors

Yesterday I met professor Halfbrain in the city. The professor looked tired and somewhat exhausted. He told me that he had spent his nights and days with adding up digits of divisors of positive ...
31
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1answer
3k views

Ernie and the Island of Stability

Unfortunately, it appears that I may have misled you a little in this puzzle (as you probably know - my memory of events isn't always perfect). When I was writing it, I re-checked the Kzijekistanian ...
30
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16answers
6k views

Brothers, cousins, and foes - what am I?

I am one of many siblings in a great family. We are the most perfect of our race, Because each of us has a clear worst enemy. My foe - I know him well - is much like me, But we continually fight ...
30
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9answers
9k views

Should I Take the Bus or Refill My Bottle First?

This is a real-life puzzle encountered by one of my friends. I want to arrive early to my class today. Exactly every $7$ minutes, there is a bus that arrives at the station near my dorm and will ...
30
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4answers
5k views

A mathematical riddle

Three letters can define me, Sometimes even just one. Try to derive the answer, And you'll find just me. I'm so fast, I'm so slow, Up or down I will go. Some are based on ...
30
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7answers
5k views

Dinosaur egg drop

Archeologists discover two dinosaur eggs, and you are given the chance to test the durability of these eggs (bad move on their part). Suppose that these eggs will absorb a specific amount of force ...
30
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3answers
4k views

The ping pong puzzle

Three friends ($A$, $B$ and $C$) are playing ping pong. They play the usual way: two play at a time, the winner stays on, and the loser waits his/her turn again. At the end of the day, they summarise ...
30
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13answers
5k views

Teacher, teacher on the wall, Who's the dumbest of them all?

A maths teacher writes a very large number on the blackboard and asks her pupils (of whom there are $n$ in the room) about its factors. The first pupil says, "The number is divisible by 2." The ...
30
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2answers
3k views

Determine the algorithm

So I was given this puzzle quite some time ago and just thought it would make a nice addition to this site: Your task is to determine the method how the result is determined from the given number. A ...
30
votes
1answer
2k views

A Cave in the Black Mountains

Across the Deadly River, among the Black Mountains, is a mystical cave. Anyone who enters the cave finds within it a single gold coin, which may be freely taken. Once you leave the cave, you can never ...
30
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1answer
2k views

Computation without a computer

In the number $(1+\sqrt{3})^{2015}$, what is the 224th digit after the decimal point? You may NOT use a calculator, computer, or any electronic aid to answer this question. Only pen(cil), paper, and ...
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2answers
3k views

Ernie and the Alchemist's Gift

For Ernie, the task of choosing Christmas presents for his friends is always a struggle. I think that is because, while he finds it easy to solve problems relating to machines, mathematics, and ...
30
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3answers
3k views

Cross-road optimization - what is the proper way to solve this type of puzzle?

This puzzle has 3 levels of increasing complexity. Each "level" is separate and complete, so feel free to post partial solutions to the individual levels only. I'm most interested in the principal ...
29
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7answers
8k views

Aside from brute force, how can I solve this puzzle?

Once upon a time, and old lady went to sell her vast quantity of eggs at the local market. When asked how many she had, she replied: Son, I can't count past 100 but I know that: If you ...
29
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10answers
9k views

Using only 1s, make 29 with the minimum number of digits

Use the minimum number of ones to make 29. Here is the list of operations permitted: "Standard" operations, such as: $x+y$, $x-y$, $x\times y$, $x\div y$ Negation: $-x$ Exponentiation of two numbers:...
29
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13answers
14k views

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 = 2016

Add the four basic operators $\times\div+\,\;-$ and optionally brackets to: $10 \quad 9 \quad 8 \quad 7 \quad 6 \quad 5 \quad 4 \quad 3 \quad 2 \quad 1$ To get the total $2016$. Rules: We are ...
29
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1answer
3k views

The largest Monday number

A Monday number is a positive integer $N$ with the following three properties: The decimal representation of $N$ does not contain the digit 0 The decimal representation of $N$ does not contain any ...