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Donald Knuth’s 2017 Christmas lecture: “A Conjecture That Had To Be True”

Every year, Donald Knuth gives a Christmas lecture at Stanford.

This year, he wanted to talk about a conjecture he’s recently investigated.

It’s just over an hour long. Sit down with a warm drink and enjoy some interesting recreational maths from the master.

Cockcroft on puzzles in maths teaching

I am interested in puzzles and games and how they relate to mathematical thinking, not least through my involvement with the Maths Arcade initiative. I was pleased to read what is said on this topic in the 1982 Cockcroft report. This is the report of an inquiry started in 1978 “to consider the teaching of mathematics in primary and secondary schools in England and Wales, with particular regard to its effectiveness and intelligibility and to the match between the mathematical curriculum and the skills required in further education, employment and adult life generally”.

A new recreational mathematics magazine from the Ludus Association


Imagine, if you will, a group of people who enjoy recreational mathematics and consequently decide that there should be more places for them to share fun maths. It’s crazy and unprecedented, I know, but humour me.

Recreational Mathematics Magazine does what it says on the tin. It’s a semiannual electronic journal published by the Ludus Association addressing “games and puzzles, problems, mathmagic, mathematics and arts, history of mathematics, math and fun with algorithms, reviews and news.”

Games to entertain a commutative mathematician.

I get the Tyne & Wear Metro in and out of work every day. When I don’t have a quality periodical to peruse, I like to play games on my phone. I’ve found a few really good games for my phone that also exercise my maths muscle recently, so I thought I’d write a post about them to share the fun, and prompt you to recommend even more.

Since I’ve got an Android phone, I’m no doubt missing some fantastic games on iOS, but lots of apps these days have versions for both big platforms. I’m also giving UK prices; prices in your country are likely the same numbers with different symbols in front.

MOVES: A recreational mathematics conference at MoMath

The Museum of Mathematics in New York (MoMath) have announced their “first-ever conference on recreational mathematics”, MOVES (Mathematics Of Various Entertaining Subjects), from 4th-6th August. They’re offering an exclusive night-time opening followed by a weekend of sessions:

Join the National Museum of Mathematics for its first-ever conference on recreational mathematics.  Explore America’s only museum of math in a night open exclusively to conference attendees, then participate in two days of sessions on the mathematics of games and puzzles. Bring your family along; we’ll have a special family track to entertain.

A “tentative schedule” offers a keynote address by Erik Demaine and slots for contributed talks and meetings. The website also promises a post-conference Math Encounters presentation by Terry Tao on the 7th August, though this isn’t on the Math Encounters website yet.

The deadline to register to attend is 15th May or “until at capacity”. The deadline to submit a research talk or a family activity is the 15th April.

More information and registration: MOVES conference, August 4-6 at MoMath

A recreational maths seminar?

Would you be interested in taking part in a sort of online video-chat seminar about recreational maths? Then read on!