Diagonal in a Rectangle

A 1000 × 1004 rectangle is split into 1 × 1 squares. How many of these squares does the main diagonal of the large rectangle pass through?

Notice that the number of small squares the main diagonal passes through is equal to the number of horizontal and vertical lines it intersects. Indeed, every time the diagonal goes through the interior of one square to the interior of another, it must intersect one of these lines.

There are 1000 + 1004 = 2004 lines which are intersected by the main diagonal. However, on four occasions (which is the greatest common divisor of 1000 and 1004), the main diagonal intersects one horizontal and one vertical line at the same time, which results in double-counting., so we must subtract 4 from the answer.

Therefore, the answer is 1000 + 1004 – 4 = 2000.

Blue and Red Points

You have 100 blue and 100 red points in the plane, no three of which lie on one line. Prove that you can connect all points in pairs of different colors so that no two segments intersect each other.

Connect the points in pairs of different colors so that the total length of all segments is minimal. If any two segments intersect, you can swap the two pairs among these four points and get a smaller total length.

The Pasta Puzzle

You have 10 strings of pasta left on your plate. You randomly start tying up their ends, until there are no loose ends anymore. What is the average number of loops which are created?

The expected (average) number of loops at the end of the procedure is equal to the expected number of loops created after the first tying, plus the expected number of loops created after the second tying, etc. After each tying, the number of non-loop strings decreases by 1, and then the probabilities to create a new loop are 1/19, 1/17, 1/15, etc. Therefore, the answer is the sum 1/19 + 1/17 + 1/15 + … + 1/3 + 1/1 ~ 2.1.

The Missing Digit

The number 229 has 9 digits, all different. Which digit is missing?

Bonus: Is the number 9991 prime?

Let the missing digit be m. Every number and the sum of its digits give the same remainder when divided by 9. The number 229 = 32 * 644 gives remainder 5 when divided by 9, and therefore 9 divides (0 + 1 + 2 + … + 9) – 5 – m = 40 – m. Thus, the missing digit is 4.

Bonus: 9991 = 10000 – 9 = 1002 – 32 = (100 – 3)(100 + 3) = 97 * 103. Therefore the number 9991 is not prime.

Borromean Rings

Borromean rings are rings in the 3-dimensional space, linked in such a way that if you cut any of the three rings, all of them will be unlinked (see the image below). Show that rigid circular Borromean rings cannot exist.

Assume the opposite. Imagine the rings have zero thickness and reposition them in such a way, that two of them, say ring 1 and ring 2, touch each other in two points. These two rings lie either on a sphere or a plane which ring 3 must intersect in four points. However, this is impossible.