# Challenges

## … And The Oldest Has Red Hair

It’s been a while since we’ve done a puzzle, just for fun. Here we’ll look at two versions of a riddle, about finding children’s ages from a known product, a partially known sum, and a bizarre fact about the oldest. Then we’ll close with an interesting variation.

## A Hen and a Half …

Last week, we looked at problems involving some number of people making some number of things in some amount of time. In a classic twist on this problem, we’ll now examine several variants starting with “If a hen and a half can lay an egg and a half …”. Can we make sense of half-eggs …

## Three Trigonometric Inequalities

(A new question of the week) We often solve basic trigonometric equations; but a recent set of questions dealt with challenging trigonometric inequalities, which bring with them a new set of issues. We’ll look at several of those here, which combine trig with polynomials, rational functions, and more. Each will illustrate something new to watch …

## A Challenging Homogeneous Second-Order Recurrence

(An archive question of the week) In preparing the last couple posts, on recurrence relations, I ran across an answer to a much harder question, that illustrates what it can take to solve one that doesn’t fit the convenient forms. It’s linear, but the coefficients are not constant as they have been in all our …

## Factoring Tricks from an Old Textbook

(A new question of the week) Last week I discussed several Ask Dr. Math questions about factoring quartic polynomials, which had been on my list of potential topics. That list also included a question on that topic from three years ago, that didn’t make it into the blog at the time. That will lead us …

## Trying to Solve a Strange Log Equation

(A new question of the week) We’ll look at a very complicated logarithmic equation, which leads to quartic equations and some very interesting graphs. We won’t find a fully satisfying solution method, but we’ll have some fun trying – and reveal the fallibility of at least one Math Doctor!

## A Mind-Stretching Exercise with a Stretched Cosine

(A new question of the week) A question in September, about graphing a horizontally-stretched cosine function, led to a long conversation. Between a typo in the problem and some inside-out thinking, this surprisingly non-routine problem led to some good mind-stretching! I have edited this down considerably by removing distractions from the main ideas, but it …

## A Finite Series Workout

(A new question of the week) A question from the end of August led a student and a Math Doctor to an extra challenge, by way of an apparent typo in the problem. We particularly enjoy working with students who are willing to take on extra work in order to learn more than they need …

## Logic Puzzles: Who Owns the Fish?

Having looked at methods for solving four logic puzzles, I’ll close the series with a classic, this one involving five houses, five colors, five countries, five drinks, five cigarettes, and five pets – that’s six attributes to juggle! (Last time, we had only 3 or 5.) Once again, the challenge is to solve it without …

## Logic Puzzles: Five Murders, Five Friends

Here are two more logic puzzles similar to those we looked at last time. Each is partly solved, enough to teach how to approach such problems (this time, using tables), but leaving enough of a challenge for you to finish up. What’s new here is that we will be using tables to keep track of …