Recreational mathematics

9

(Try to) solve a series of apparently simple and unrelated puzzles and uncover the mathematical elegance behind the solutions.

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An abstraction of the problem of the seven bridges of Königsberg.

Purpose

The aim of this workshop is to have the audience play around with many deceptively simple puzzles they already know and have them realize that mathematics has a say on everything.

Content

This workshop is suitable for people of any age and depending on how much time I get, I pick a set of puzzles and then I do the following:

  1. show a simple version of the puzzle that can be solved easily;
  2. have the participants attempt similar puzzles on the board (... with a twist! Some of the puzzles I present at this stage are not solvable);
  3. promote a debate about whether the puzzles are solvable (and the participants are just bad) or not;
  4. use mathematics to prove the puzzles are impossible to solve.

The puzzles I end up picking are usually related to graph theory, but that is just because graphs can easily hide in plain sight. A problem I talk about very often is the problem of the seven bridges of Königsberg.

Past sessions

  • So far I have given this workshop 4 times (in 2019) and I confess it was a huge success among the participants!

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