This blog is about Simon, a young gifted mathematician and programmer, who had to move from Amsterdam to Antwerp to be able to study at the level that fits his talent, i.e. homeschool. Visit https://simontiger.com
Simon learned this game on Brilliant.org at https://brilliant.org/practice/winning-moves/?chapter=competitive-games (Warning: this link will only work if you have a Premium Subscription to Brilliant). Brilliant describes the game as follows: “Luk tsut K’i is a board game from China in the time of Confucius. In medieval Europe, it went by the title Three Men’s Morris. This game is very similar to tic-tac-toe; the objective is for one player to get their three pieces all on the same line. If this occurs, that player wins”.
Three boxes with fruit, all the three labels are misplaced. What is the minimum number of times one will have to sample a random piece of fruit from one of the boxes to know how to label all the three boxes correctly? From Mind Your Decisions.
Connect A and A’, B and B’, C and C’, D and D’ so that no lines intersect. (Neva added colors).
Dividing 11 coins among three people: “How many ways can you divide 11 coins to 3 people? How many ways are there if each person has to get at least 1 coin?” From Mind Your Decisions.
Solving a simple quadratic equation geometrically: the geometric interpretation of “completing the square”, a notion from deriving the quadratic formula. From Mind Your Decisions.
Which way do the arrows point? (Simon made this drawing in Microsoft Paint):
We devoted the beginning of January to a goofy stop-motion project: Simon and I baked 2048 cookies! No, we didn’t bake over two thousand cookies! We only baked and decorated a little over a hundred of them, Simon had calculated that that would be enough to play the 2048 game… with cookies. Simon came up with all the editing tricks to make this project work. In the video, he also explains his winning strategy and confesses he has made another attempt to program the game, without me knowing it. Apparently, that’s how he first came up with the idea to bake the cookies, by looking up pictures of 2048 while programming and stumbling upon this blog.
Here is a link to Simon’s previous attempt to program 2048, about a year ago (he got pretty far).
In a game of peg solitaire, if you win you must end up on one of these 5 points! This analysis was a little more difficult than with the pyramid. Because in the pyramid, I ended up with a symmetric picture whereas with this one I ended up with an asymmetric picture. So I had to do one more step of removing all of the x’s that break the symmetry:
This has been one of Simon’s most ambitious (successful) projects so far and a beautiful grand finale of 2019, also marking his channel reaching 1K subscribers. The project – approximating Euler’s number (e) in a very weird way – is based upon a Putnam exam puzzle that Simon managed to prove:
I’ve been terrible at keeping this blog up to date. One of Simon’s best project in December 2019 was creating a chess robot and I haven’t even shared it here.
We were joking how this is Simon’s baby and her name is Chessy. Simon also made an improved version with a drop-down menu allowing to choose 1 to 5 steps ahead difficulty level (warning: levels 4 and 5 may run quite slowly): https://chess-ai-user-friendly–simontiger.repl.co/
Inspired by the Card Flipping Proof by Numberphile, Simon created his own version of this proof. He made a solitaire game and proved why it would be impossible to solve with an even number of orange-side-up circles. He drew all the shapes in Microsoft Paint, printed them out and spent something like two hours cutting them out, but it was worth it!
If there’s an odd number of orange circles in the middle, then the end pieces are the same, both orange or both white. In both cases the total number of orange circles will also be odd. If there’s an even number of orange circles in the middle, then the ends have to be different (one orange, one white).
In the case of odd number of orange pieces, the ends have to match. In the case of an even number of orange pieces, you would have pieces that point the same way at both ends. “Now we’ve proven that to make this puzzle possible it has to have an odd number of orange pieces”, Simon says.
Why? Imagine a stick figure that always walks to the right, but always faces in the direction of the arrow (as in it can’t go backwards). It would flip every time it reaches an orange circle. Focusing on everything except the ends, if there are an odd number of orange circles, the puzzle pieces would face the other way. Which means that the end pieces are the same, and therefore the end circles are the same. If there are an even number of orange circles in the middle, the puzzle pieces would face the same way. Which means that the end pieces are different, and therefore the end circles are different.
Simon finds this sort of proof easy, but I felt like my brains are going to boil and dripple through my ears and nostrils. He patently exlained it to me several times and types the above explanation, too.
It’s Sinterklaas season in the Dutch-speaking world and, of course, as we have started baking the traditional spiced cookies called kruidnoten (“gingerbread buttons”) Simon didn’t want to miss an opportunity to play a version of peg solitaire with eatable pieces!
Simon loves the Maths Is Fun website and has borrowed a couple of ideas for cool games from there. He wrote the code completely on his own, from scratch. Below is a video where he presents his Connect games: