Tag Archives: Polish Math Olympiads

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

The Tired Messenger Problem

Here is another challenging problem from the Polish Mathematical Olympiads.  Its generality will cause more thought than for a simpler, specific problem.

“A cyclist sets off from point O and rides with constant velocity v along a rectilinear highway.  A messenger, who is at a distance a from point O and at a distance b from the highway, wants to deliver a letter to the cyclist.  What is the minimum velocity with which the messenger should run in order to attain his objective?”

See the Tired Messenger Problem

Octagonal Area Problem

Here is another problem from the Polish Mathematical Olympiads published in 1960.

“95. In a parallelogram of given area S each vertex has been connected with the mid-points of the opposite two sides.  In this manner the parallelogram has been cut into parts, one of them being an octagon.  Find the area of that octagon.”


See the Octagonal Area Problem for solutions.

Twisting Beam Problem

Here is a slightly different kind of problem from the Polish Mathematical Olympiads.

“106. A beam of length a is suspended horizontally by its ends by means of two parallel ropes of lengths b.  We twist the beam through an angle φ about the vertical axis passing through the centre of the beam.  How far will the beam rise?”


See the Twisting Beam Problem for solutions.

Polynomial Division Problem

Here is a challenging problem from the Polish Mathematical Olympiads published in 1960.

“22. Prove that the polynomial

x44 + x33 + x22 + x11 + 1

is divisible by the polynomial

x4 + x3 + x2 + x + 1.”

See the Polynomial Division Problem

(Update 8/23/2021)  The idea expressed in this post that mathematicians are “lazy” and seek short-cuts to solving questions and problems, as I did in this one, was recently the subject of a Numberphile post by Marcus du Sautoy: “Mathematics is all about SHORTCUTS“.