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Mathematical Diversions


Many of the topics that are commonly placed in the area of recreational mathematics have occupied their niches for many years. Therefore, although the bulk of the material in this book was written almost four decades ago, it is largely still topical. The primary areas that are not are where the computer has increased our capability. At the time it was written, the four-color theorem was not yet proven and the largest known prime was but a shadow of what it is now. Some of the diversions listed here are the staples of magic squares, alphametics, geometric dissections, polyomino constructions and simple topological problems. A small chapter is devoted to logic puzzles and the solutions are included. The authors were two of the leading figures in recreational mathematics in the sixties. Joseph Madachy was the founder of Recreational Mathematics Magazine and the editor of Journal of Recreational Mathematics for nearly thirty years. J. A. H. Hunter was the longtime author of a syndicated newspaper column of math teasers. The choice of problems is a true cross section of what recreational mathematics, a subject where inclusion is very subjective, is all about. As one of the current editors of Journal of Recreational Mathematics, the manuscripts I receive often deal with these same topics. The explanation of the problems and the approach used to solve them is very well done. In general, the only background needed is a knowledge of algebra that one would obtain in the standard high school course in algebra. If you are interested in recreational mathematics, then this is a book that you will find of interest. While the computer has made it easier to solve some of these problems, it has not made the topics any less interesting in the last forty years.

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