# Recreational mathematics

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**Recreational mathematics** is an umbrella term, referring to mathematical puzzles and mathematical games.

Not all problems in this field require a knowledge of advanced mathematics, and thus, recreational mathematics often piques the curiosity of non-mathematicians, and inspires their further study of mathematics.

## Contents |

## [edit] Topics

This genre of mathematics includes logic puzzles and other puzzles that require deductive reasoning, the aesthetics of mathematics, and peculiar or amusing stories and coincidences about mathematics and mathematicians. Some of the more well-known topics in recreational mathematics are magic squares and fractals.

### [edit] Mathematical games

Mathematical games are multiplayer games whose rules, strategies, and outcomes can be studied and explained by mathematics. The players of the game may not need to use mathematics in order to play mathematical games. For example, Mancala is a mathematical game, because mathematicians can study it using combinatorial game theory, even though no mathematics is necessary in order to play it.

Sometimes mathematical puzzles (below) are referred to as mathematical games.

### [edit] Mathematical puzzles

Mathematical puzzles require mathematics in order to solve them. They have specific rules, as do multiplayer games, but mathematical puzzles don't usually involve competition between two or more players. Instead, in order to solve such a puzzle, the solver must find a solution that satisfies the given conditions.

Logic puzzles are a common type of mathematical puzzle. Conway's Game of Life and fractals are also considered mathematical puzzles, even though the solver only interacts with them by providing a set of initial conditions.

Sometimes, mathematical puzzles (above) are referred to as mathematical games.

### [edit] Other

Other curiosities and pastimes of non-trivial mathematical interest:

- Juggling (juggling patterns)
- Origami (many mathematical results, some deep)
- Cat's cradle and other string figures

## [edit] Publications

- The
*Journal of Recreational Mathematics*is the largest publication on this topic. *Mathematical Games*was the title of a long-running column on the subject by Martin Gardner, in Scientific American. He inspired several new generations of mathematicians and scientists, through his interest in mathematical recreations.*Mathematical Games*was succeeded by*Metamagical Themas*, a similarly distinguished, but shorter-running, column by Douglas Hofstadter, then by*Mathematical Recreations*, a column by Ian Stewart, and most recently*Puzzling Adventures*by Dennis Shasha.

- In popular culture

- In the
*Doctor Who*episode "42", the Doctor completes a sequence of happy primes, then complains that schools no longer teach recreational mathematics. *The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime*, a book about a young boy with Aspergers Syndrome, discusses many mathematical games and puzzles.

## [edit] People

The foremost advocates of recreational mathematics have included:

- Lucy Baker
- John Horton Conway
- H. S. M. Coxeter
- Henry Dudeney
- Martin Gardner, author of
*Mathematical Games*, a long running column in Scientific American - Bobby Govier
- Piet Hein
- Douglas Hofstadter
- Maurice Kraitchik - possibly one of the earliest
- Sam Loyd
- Clifford A. Pickover, author of numerous books on recreational mathematics
- Ed Pegg, Jr.
- Walter William Rouse Ball
- David Singmaster
- Raymond Smullyan
- Ian Stewart
- Yakov Perelman
- Hugo Steinhaus
- Marilyn vos Savant, author of "Ask Marilyn", a long running column in
*PARADE* - Malba Tahan, pseudonym of Júlio César de Mello e Souza, author of several books figuring recreational mathematics, including
*The Man Who Counted* - D. R. Kaprekar
- Scott Kim

## [edit] Further reading

- W. W. Rouse Ball and H.S.M. Coxeter (1987).
*Mathematical Recreations and Essays*, Thirteenth Edition, Dover. ISBN 0-486-25357-0. - Henry E. Dudeney (1967).
*536 Puzzles and Curious Problems. Charles Scribner's sons*. ISBN 0-684-71755-7. - Sam Loyd (1959. 2 Vols.). in Martin Gardner: The Mathematical Puzzles of Sam Loyd. Dover. OCLC 5720955.
- Raymond M. Smullyan (1991).
*The Lady or the Tiger? And Other Logic Puzzles*. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-286136-0.

## [edit] External links

- QEDcat - fun mathematical resources by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross.
- mathpuzzle.com by Ed Pegg, Jr.
- Puzzles of the Month by Gianni A. Sarcone
- The Unreasonable Utility of Recreational Mathematics by David Singmaster
- Nick's Mathematical Puzzles
- Knot a Braid of Links