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):
For over a month, Simon has been fascinated by Presh Talwalkar’s channel Mind Your Decisions. The channel is full of short videos on famous math problems, logic riddles, proofs and mental math tricks. Simon has also ordered a compilation of Talwalkar’s five most interesting books, including “The Joy of Game Theory: An Introduction to Strategic Thinking”, that we are currently very much enjoying together, and four more, that Simon is reading on his own: “40 Paradoxes in Logic, Probability, and Game Theory”, “The Irrationality Illusion: How To Make Smart Decisions And Overcome Bias”, “The Best Mental Math Tricks”, and “Multiply Numbers By Drawing Lines”.
This one became Simon’s favourite brain teaser. It sounds like it’s filled with irrelevant information, but somewhat counterintuitively, every little bit of information in this puzzle helps! Here is the puzzle: A mathematician tells a census taker he has 3 children. The product of their ages is 72 and the sum of their ages is the house number. The census taker tries to figure it out but explains he still does not know. The mathematician says, “Of course not. I forgot to tell you my oldest child loves chocolate chip cookies.” Now the census taker figures it out. What are the ages of the children?
Simon has also picked up many nifty tricks and beautiful magic squares, both from the book and from the YouTube channel.
The end of 2019 was packed with logic. Simon even started programming an AI that would solve logical puzzles, here is the beginning of this unfinished project (he switched to programming a chess AI instead). In the two vids below, he explains the puzzle he used as an example and outlines his plan to build the AI (the puzzles come from Brilliant.org):
And here are some impressions of Simon working on the puzzles and showing them to his sis:
Today we have heard about a new accident involving a teenager electrocuted by her mobile phone. Luckily, this time it was not a lethal case, but a quick search on the web has revealed that this is no joke: several teens have died in just a few years because they were either holding their phone with wet hands while the phone was being charged at the same time, or dropped their phone into the bath tub while the phone was plugged in, or because they were using wired headphones while charging their phone!
At first Simon and I didn’t believe this could be so dangerous, as he knew for sure that a mobile phone adaptor always has a voltage control built into it that reduces the voltage from 220V to something like 5 to 20V. But then we dove into it and found out that apparently, once a short circuit occurs, the adaptor’s voltage control unit also malfunctions and lets the 220V current through!