Posted in ask uncle colin.

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m trying to organise a tournament involving seven teams and two pitches. The following conditions must hold: Each team plays four games No pair of teams meets more than once Each team must play at most one pair of back-to-back matches How would you solve this? Bit

Read More →
Posted in ask uncle colin.

Dear Uncle Colin, How would I work out $\sqrt{\ln(100!)}$ in my head? - Some Tricks I’d Really Like In Number Games Hi, STIRLING, and thanks for your message! I don’t know how you’d do it, but I know how the Mathematical Ninja would! Stirling’s Approximation1 says that $\ln(n!) \approx n

Read More →
Posted in ask uncle colin.

Dear Uncle Colin, I’m struggling to make any headway with this: find all integers $n$ such that $5 \times 2^n + 1$ is square. Any ideas? Lousy Expression Being Equalto Square Gives Undue Exasperation Hi, LEBESGUE, and thanks for your message! Every mathematician should have a Bag Of Tricks –

Read More →
Posted in ask uncle colin.

Dear Uncle Colin, If I didn’t have a calculator and wanted to know the decimal expansion of $\sqrt{2}$, how would I be best to go about it? Roots As Decimals - Irrational Constant At Length Hi, RADICAL, and thanks for your message! There are several options for finding $\sqrt{2}$ as

Read More →
Posted in ask uncle colin.

Dear Uncle Colin, I have to find the points $A$ and $B$ on the curve $x^2 + y^2 - xy =84$ where the gradient of the tangent is $\frac{1}{3}$. I find four possible points, but the mark scheme only lists two. Where have I gone wrong? I've Miscounted Points Like

Read More →
Posted in ask uncle colin.

Dear Uncle Colin, I'm told that $2^a \equiv 9 \pmod{11}$. How do I find $a$? - Powers And Stuff, Calculating And Learning Hi, PASCAL, and thanks for your message! As so often, there are (at least) two reasonable ways to tackle this: a brute force way and an elegant way.

Read More →
Posted in ask uncle colin.

A Hanging Rope Dear Uncle Colin, I'm designing a small cathedral and have an 80-metre long rope I want to hang between two vertical poles. The poles are both 50 metres high, and I want the lowest point on the rope to be 20 metres above the ground. How far

Read More →
Posted in ask uncle colin.

Dear Uncle Colin, I keep forgetting how to integrate $\sec(x)$ and $\cosec(x)$. Do you have any tips? - Literally Nothing Memorable Or Distinctive Hi, LNMOD, and thanks for your message! Integrating $\sec(x)$ and $\cosec(x)$ relies on a trick, and one the average mathematician probably wouldn't come up with without a

Read More →
Posted in ask uncle colin.

Dear Uncle Colin, I have the simultaneous equations $3x^2 - 3y = 0$ and $3y^2 - 3x = 0$. I've worked out that $x^2 = y$ and $y^2 = x$, but then I'm stuck! - My Expertise Relatedto1 Simultaneous Equations? Not Nearly Enough! Hi, MERSENNE, and thanks for your message!

Read More →
Posted in ask uncle colin.

Dear Uncle Colin, I have been given the series $\frac{1}{2} + \frac{1}{3} + \frac{1}{8} + \frac{1}{30} + \frac{1}{144} + ...$, which appears to have a general term of $\frac{1}{k! + (k+1)!}$ - but I can't see how to sum that! Any ideas? - Series Underpin Maths! Hi, SUM, and thanks

Read More →