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Summer Maths Puzzles from the Isaac Newton Institute

Summer Maths Puzzles website graphic

There are a collection of 23 maths-based puzzles appearing at a rate of one-per-weekday through August over at the Isaac Newton Institute. Their website explains “They won’t require sophisticated maths to solve, but equally they won’t be easy. Discussing your ideas might help.”

For example, here is the teaser puzzle, £8.19:

Two players play a game.
  • They each start with an unlimited number of coins of denominations: 1p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p and 100p.
  • They take it in turns putting coins into a pot one at a time.
  • The winner is the person who places the final coin into the pot reaching the target total of £8.19.
  • A player automatically loses if they exceed the target total.
Given that they are both perfect logicians and strategists, who wins?

Answers will be revealed at the end of the month, and you are invited to submit your answers for a chance to be named as a person or group who submitted one of the first few correct answers.

At the time of writing, there are 6 puzzles still to be revealed, and 17 puzzles are live. Check out the Summer Maths Puzzles website, or search Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for #SummerMathsPuzzles.

Happy puzzling!

FryDay News Bulletin

Regular readers of The Aperiodical will not be surprised to hear that Hannah Fry is up to something exciting, but you will likely still be surprised by the sheer number of exciting things which Hannah Fry is currently doing. But this is why we are here after all, so here is your breaking FryDay news, hot off the presses.

Mathematical Objects: Thermometer

Mathematical Objects

A conversation about mathematics inspired by a thermometer. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett.


Hedetniemi’s Conjecture in graph theory disproved

In Quanta Erica Klarreich recently wrote up Yaroslav Shitov’s new counter example which disproves Stephen Hedetniemi’s 50 year old conjecture, original dissertation, that the number of colors required to color the tensor product of two graphs is the lesser of the numbers used to color the original graphs. These colorings have applications in areas from scheduling to seating plans, and it is clear from Klarreich’s reporting that mathematicians are excited about this result. In fact, Hedetniemi responded very positively when asked by Klarreich about the counter example, saying it “has a certain elegance, simplicity and definitive quality to it.” The counter-example may show Hedetniemi’s conjecture is not true, but Klarreich points out that we do not yet know just how false it is. So, while Shitov has closed one door on this problem, there are still many which are open.

via Thomas Lin on Twitter.

Maths World UK has almost reached its funding target

The UK’s nascent maths exploratorium, Maths World UK, has secured match funding for any donations made towards setting up the museum, to the tune of £125,000 – this means if they can raise that amount of money, a donor will double it. They’re now within £20,000 of the target, and need your donations to close the gap.

The project has been in development for a few years now, but until they have enough funding they won’t be able to set up a permanent centre. If a museum of mathematics in the UK is something you’d like to see, you can use the links below to donate, or find out more about the project.

Donation Page at GoldenGiving
MWUK website

YouTube video with James Grime and Maths World UK CEO Katie Chicot:

Mathematical Objects: Noughts and Crosses (Tic Tac Toe) board

Mathematical Objects

A conversation about mathematics inspired by a Noughts and Crosses (Tic Tac Toe) board, covering Noughts and Crosses, a surprising number of variants, with a bit of higher dimensions and topology for good measure. Presented by Katie Steckles and Peter Rowlett.

Noughts and Crosses board