Math Problem Solving Team

Clark University

23 Sep 2004
We looked at a couple of the POWs (problems of the week).

I. From the Macalester College POTW. 21 Sep 2004. Problem of the Week 1013. Digit Rotation.

We had a couple of ideas. First, the first digit has to be a 1. If it were 2 or greater, then when you multiplied it by 6, the product would have too many digits. Second, you could start with a guess for the last digit and that would determine the next one to the left, and that digit would determine the digit to its left, and so forth. But we didn't know what should be the last digit, and the computations were beginning to take time. So we went on to another problem. If you have time, see if you can carry out the computations, or perhaps find other ways to do this one.

II. United States Military Academy's Problem of the Week. 23 Sep 2004, week 3. To determine whether or not

A few computations showed it was true for a lot of n. We talked about mathematical induction for a while. Sterling's formula was mentioned. But we didn't spend much time trying to actually solve the problem. Why don't we try this again? Try it on your own. You might get an insight and come up with a clever argument.

III. From the Geometry Problem of the Week, Math Forum at Drexel. 13 Sep 2004. (Note: as of October 2005, this Geometry Problem of the Week has gone commercial. Access is denied to those who don't pay. What a shame.) Partitioning the plane.

We got this one. A little careful experimenting gave us the answer for n = 6, and we saw the pattern for the general solution. Furthermore, we had a good informal reason why it was right. We should use this as an example when we take up construction of proofs so we can learn how to explain our solution and turn the explanation into an airtight argument.

IV. Perdue University's Problem of the Week. 9/21/04. Problem 5. Incenters of triangles inscribed in ovals.

As most of the language was new, all we got to do was look at what the question meant. It's a fun problem, though, and you may be able to find the answer even if you haven't studied the formal mathematics of the problem. Think about the Intermediate Value Theorem from calculus that says if a continuous function takes on two values, then it takes on all intermediate values.

V. Bradley University's Problem of the Week. 9/20/04. Problem 198. 60 degree lines.

We didn't have much time to look at it. We examined the special case when OA = OC. We looked at polar coordinates and saw that if the line ABC is made the vertical line x=1 while the point O is the origin, then the equation of the line in polar coordinates is r = sec theta. That's when we ran out of time. I think we're on the right track, or at least we're on one of the right tracks.

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D. Joyce
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Clark University
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