RewardandRiskAnalytics   2012

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Last revised: June 03, 2012

Reference desk

Math Trek; Adventures in the Math Zone (New York: Wiley, 2000), by Ivars Peterson and Nancy Henderson, appears to target a younger audience, because of its colorful cover and its hands-on exercises, but may be better suited for highly motivated adults.

The mathematical topics that it introduces, so well—knot theory, map coloring, fractals, chaos theory, etc.—are not elementary and not always as well-explained, as here. The clear, hands-on explanations in this book make the advanced topics easy to approach for a wide range of readers.

101. Cryptic Addition 2012-5-28

The arrangement of symbols, below, is an addition problem. Each of the symbols represents a single digit in the set, {1, 2, 3, 4}. 

                       ♠  ©
                  Ω  ♠  ©
              £  Ω  ♠  ©
              £  ©  ©  £  

What is the value of each symbol?

£  =             © =
♠  =             Ω =  


102. A Knotty Problem 2012-5-28

After a day of good interviews, Eddie's prospective supervisor, Sam, invited Eddie to join Sam and half a dozen prospective colleagues for a drink after work.

At the bar, they nurse their drinks and engage a series of complete strangers in intriguing bar bets, always winning the money, but never making friends.

Eddie sees that he has 90 minutes to board his flight home. "Sam, everyone, thanks for the excellent day of interviews. You had good questions, and helpful answers to mine. I need to catch a cab to the airport. I hope we'll speak soon about the next step in this process."

Sam nodded and said, "You're tied with another candidate, except that he didn't pass one test that we haven't given you, yet. It'll only take a minute. Would you like to try?"

Eddie thinks, I don't really have a choice. He says, "Let's do it!"

Sam reaches into his jacket pocket, pulls out three feet of what looks to be clothesline, and lays it out on the bar, so it looks like a line segment from left to right. "Eddie, listen carefully. I want you to grab one end of that rope with your left hand, and without letting go, grab the other end with your right hand, and--letting go--tie a knot in the rope. You have until the taxi comes."

Sam turns to an underling and says, "Flag down a cab for Eddie, please. He's in a hurry."

Eddie looks at the rope and thinks, That's impossible.

Is it? If not, what should Eddie do?