Author Archives: Jim Stevenson

Circles in Circles

Here is another problem from the “Challenges” section of the Quantum magazine.

“Inside a circle there are two intersecting circles. One of them touches the big circle in point A, the other in point B. Prove that if segment AB meets the smaller circles at one of their common points, then the sum of their radii equals the radius of the big circle. Is the converse true?  (A. Vesyolov)”

See Circles in Circles

Elliptic Circles

Here is another UKMT Senior Challenge problem for 2017.

“The diagram shows a square PQRS with edges of length 1, and four arcs, each of which is a quarter of a circle. Arc TRU has centre P; arc VPW has centre R; arc UV has centre S; and arc WT has centre Q.

What is the length of the perimeter of the shaded region?

A_6___B_(2√2 – 1)π___C_(√2 – 1/2 ___D_2___E_(3√2 – 2)π”


See Elliptic Circles for a solution.

Two More Jugs

Here is another classic example of the three jug problem posed in the Mathigon Puzzle Calendars for 2017.

“How can I measure exactly 8 liters of water, using just one 11 liter and one 6 liter bucket?”

It is assumed you have unlimited access to water (the “third jug” of at least 17 liters).  You can only fill or empty the jugs, unless in poring from one jug to another you fill the receiving jug before emptying the poring jug.  (Hint: see the Three Jugs Problem.)

See Two More Jugs.

Amazing Identity

This is a most surprising and amazing identity from the 1965 Polish Mathematical Olympiads.

“31.  Prove that if n is a natural number, then we have

(√2 – 1)n = √m – √(m – 1),

where m is a natural number.”

Here, natural numbers are 1, 2, 3, …

I found it to be quite challenging, as all the Polish Math Olympiad problems seem to be.

See the Amazing Identity

Elliptical Medians Problem

This is a tantalizing problem from the 1977 Crux Mathematicorum.

“278. Proposed by W.A. McWorter, Jr., The Ohio State University.

If each of the medians of a triangle is extended beyond the sides of the triangle to 4/3 its length, show that the three new points formed and the vertices of the triangle all lie on an ellipse.”

See the Elliptical Medians Problem

Storm Chaser Problem

This is a somewhat challenging problem from the 1997 American Invitational Mathematics Exam (AIME).

“A car travels due east at 2/3 miles per minute on a long, straight road. At the same time, a circular storm, whose radius is 51 miles, moves southeast at √2/2 miles per minute. At time t = 0, the center of the storm is 110 miles due north of the car. At time t = t1 minutes, the car enters the storm circle, and at time t = t2 minutes, the car leaves the storm circle. Find (t1 + t2)/2.”


See the Storm Chaser Problem for solutions.

String of Beads Puzzle

This is a nifty problem from Presh Talwalkar.

“This is from a Manga called Q.E.D. I thank Sparky from the Philippines for the suggestion!

A string of beads is formed from 25 circles of the same size. The string passes through the center of each circle. The area enclosed by the string inside each circle is shaded in blue, and the remaining areas of the circles are shaded in orange. What is the value of the orange area minus the blue area? Calculate the area in terms of r, the radius of each circle.”


See the String of Beads Puzzle for solutions.

After Five O’clock

This is a fairly extensive clock problem by Geoffrey Mott-Smith from 1954.

“The clock shown in the illustration has just struck five. A number of things are going to happen in this next hour, and I am curious to know the exact times.

  1. At what time will the two hands coincide?
  2. At what time will the two hands first stand at right angles to each other?
  3. At one point the hands will stand at an angle of 30 degrees, the minute hand being before the hour hand. Then the former will pass the latter and presently make an angle of 60 degrees on the other side. How much time will elapse between these two events?”


See After Five O’Clock for solutions.

Language Students Puzzle

This is a slightly challenging problem from Dan Griller.

“Every pupil at the Euler Academy studies French or Spanish.  At the start of the year, one third of the French students also studied Spanish, and 2 fifths of the Spanish students also studied French.  After one term, six of the double-linguists dropped French, so that now only a quarter of the French students study Spanish.  How many pupils are at the Euler Academy?”

Just to be clear, “French students” means Euler Academy pupils studying French, and similarly for “Spanish students.”


See the Language Students Puzzle for solution.