Mathematical Puzzles: A Connoisseur’s Collection by Peter Winkler is not your casual puzzle book. Even though most of the problems inside are easy to formulate, many of them require extensive mathematical background and well-developed analytical thinking. If you possess these two qualities, however, you will certainly enjoy this book. The puzzles are hard, the solutions are beautiful, and the explanations are very well-written. The book contains over 100 puzzles that are split into different categories – Insight, Numbers, Geometry, Geography, Algorithms, and others. In order to give you an idea of what to expect, I have selected several puzzles from the book which represent its overall level.
1. Given 10 red points and 10 blue points on the plane, no three on a line, prove that there is a matching between them so that line segments from each red point to its corresponding blue point do not cross.
2. A phone call is made from an East Coast state to a West Coast state, and it’s the same time of day at both ends. How can this be?
3. The hour and minute hands of a clock are indistinguishable. How many moments are there in a day when it is not possible to tell from this clock what the time is?
4. Associated with each face of a solid convex polyhedron is a bug that crawls along the perimeter of the face, at varying speed, but only in the clockwise direction. Prove that no schedule will permit all the bugs to circumnavigate their faces and return to their initial positions without incurring a collision.
MP:ACC is one of the most valuable puzzle books in my collection. If you are up to the challenge it offers, you owe yourself a favor to buy it. Even if you don’t feel too confident in your abilities to solve the problems in the book, you can still get it and study the solutions. And if you need more mathematical brilliance, you can check out Peter Winkler’s other puzzle book, Mathematical Mindbenders.
- 15 years and up
- math-heavy, difficult puzzles
- ingenious and elegant solutions
- various categories, including geography!
- great explanations and notes by the author