… 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.

Prime Factorization of a Number (Advanced)

Last time we looked at basic methods for finding the prime factorization of a number. Here we will look at some special techniques for large numbers, demonstrating them for not-too-large numbers. This takes us a step beyond previous tests that told us whether a number was composite, without actually factoring them.

Two Word Problems About Factors and Sums

(A new question of the week) A couple recent questions involved factoring numbers, in interesting ways. One involves the volume and perimeter of a block of cubes, and the other involves finding numbers with a given HCF (Highest Common Factor) and sum. Both illustrate thinking through a non-routine problem about factors.

Help with Factoring: Trinomials

(A new question of the week) I recently had a pleasant discussion of factoring, with the kind of student for whom I returned to teaching: one who has been away from math for a while, and with greater maturity has the determination to succeed. We’ll see several examples of the “ac-grouping” method of factoring a …

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Summing Divisors

In searching for answers about counting divisors over the last couple weeks, I found a few that are about the similar question of finding the sum of a number’s divisors. In fact, a couple questions and answers confuse the two problems. Let’s finish off the topic by looking at these. (Keep in mind that “divisor” …

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The Locker Problem

A classic problem we’ve seen hundreds of times involves students opening and closing lockers. I have often told people that, believe it or not, they could find the answer by searching the Ask Dr. Math site for the word “locker”. But I prefer to give them a reference to one of the answers in which …

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One More Way to Find GCF and LCM

There are so many ways to find a Least Common Multiple that I had to omit one method we have been asked about several times. This one doesn’t require finding prime factors, but focuses on division by whatever factors you see. Divide everything by whatever works The first reference to the method I have found …

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