The Zen of Magic Squares, Circles, and Stars

An Exhibition of Surprising Structures across Dimensions

Author: Clifford A. Pickover

Publisher: Princeton University Press

ISBN: 1400841518

Category: Mathematics

Page: 432

View: 5392


Humanity's love affair with mathematics and mysticism reached a critical juncture, legend has it, on the back of a turtle in ancient China. As Clifford Pickover briefly recounts in this enthralling book, the most comprehensive in decades on magic squares, Emperor Yu was supposedly strolling along the Yellow River one day around 2200 B.C. when he spotted the creature: its shell had a series of dots within squares. To Yu's amazement, each row of squares contained fifteen dots, as did the columns and diagonals. When he added any two cells opposite along a line through the center square, like 2 and 8, he always arrived at 10. The turtle, unwitting inspirer of the ''Yu'' square, went on to a life of courtly comfort and fame. Pickover explains why Chinese emperors, Babylonian astrologer-priests, prehistoric cave people in France, and ancient Mayans of the Yucatan were convinced that magic squares--arrays filled with numbers or letters in certain arrangements--held the secret of the universe. Since the dawn of civilization, he writes, humans have invoked such patterns to ward off evil and bring good fortune. Yet who would have guessed that in the twenty-first century, mathematicians would be studying magic squares so immense and in so many dimensions that the objects defy ordinary human contemplation and visualization? Readers are treated to a colorful history of magic squares and similar structures, their construction, and classification along with a remarkable variety of newly discovered objects ranging from ornate inlaid magic cubes to hypercubes. Illustrated examples occur throughout, with some patterns from the author's own experiments. The tesseracts, circles, spheres, and stars that he presents perfectly convey the age-old devotion of the math-minded to this Zenlike quest. Number lovers, puzzle aficionados, and math enthusiasts will treasure this rich and lively encyclopedia of one of the few areas of mathematics where the contributions of even nonspecialists count.

Algorithmic Puzzles

Author: Anany Levitin,Maria Levitin

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199911770

Category: Mathematics

Page: 280

View: 9756


While many think of algorithms as specific to computer science, at its core algorithmic thinking is defined by the use of analytical logic to solve problems. This logic extends far beyond the realm of computer science and into the wide and entertaining world of puzzles. In Algorithmic Puzzles, Anany and Maria Levitin use many classic brainteasers as well as newer examples from job interviews with major corporations to show readers how to apply analytical thinking to solve puzzles requiring well-defined procedures. The book's unique collection of puzzles is supplemented with carefully developed tutorials on algorithm design strategies and analysis techniques intended to walk the reader step-by-step through the various approaches to algorithmic problem solving. Mastery of these strategies--exhaustive search, backtracking, and divide-and-conquer, among others--will aid the reader in solving not only the puzzles contained in this book, but also others encountered in interviews, puzzle collections, and throughout everyday life. Each of the 150 puzzles contains hints and solutions, along with commentary on the puzzle's origins and solution methods. The only book of its kind, Algorithmic Puzzles houses puzzles for all skill levels. Readers with only middle school mathematics will develop their algorithmic problem-solving skills through puzzles at the elementary level, while seasoned puzzle solvers will enjoy the challenge of thinking through more difficult puzzles.

Before Sudoku

The World of Magic Squares

Author: Seymour S. Block,Santiago Alves Tavares

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA


Category: Games

Page: 239

View: 5398


Sudoku has become a vastly popular and even addictive game. But fans may not know that Sudoku is a recent offshoot of the venerable Magic Square, which dates back over 4,000 years to ancient China, where it was literally considered magical. Indeed, Magic Squares have fascinated centuries of mystics, astrologers, and some of the world's most brilliant thinkers, including Ben Franklin. In Sudoku and Magic Squares, Seymour Block and Santiago Tavares offer a crystal clear and engagingtour tour of Magic Squares, tracing their footsteps through through ancient and medieval history and illuminating their uses in art and design, statistics and electronics. The book provides a delightful account of a mind-boggling variety of magical squares, ranging from simple 3 x 3 and squares, to magic cubes, magic circles, magic pyramids, and even "the Beastly Magical Square," whose magic sum is 666. Of course, the authors also cover Sudoku, describing how the game became a world-wide phenomenon and revealing various strategies for solving the puzzles. And along the way, the book offers readers many fascinating facts - for instance, Sudoku was invented in 1979 by an American architect living in Indianapolis and was originally called Number Place. Oddly enough, though the puzzle is known around the world by its Japanese name (which means "single numbers"), many Japanese still call it Number Place. We also learn that in a 4 x 4 magic square, there are 880 different solutions that will yield the magic sum of 34 - a surprisingly large number until you remember that there are over 2.6 trillion possible combinations. Filled with lots of original puzzles for gamers to solve, Sudoku and Magic Squares is an entertaining book that will delight anyone who loves a challenge, including all fans of Sudoku.