The Art of Problem Solving

Filling in my time during the school holidays can be a struggle. Problem solving to the rescue! Project Euler has long been a favorite of mine. Dan at A Recursive Process is likewise addicted. John at Zero Knowledge Proofs is also hooked. Without Geometry, Life is Pointless is another blogger who has posted about his experience.

As you can see from my graphic, I have solved 24 Euler Project problems. I have done this using my Maths skills and an Excel spreadsheet. The harder problems are designed to be solved using a programming language such as Python. Aaaaagh! So how will I fill in my holidays and keep my brain cells stimulated?????

The answer comes from a delightful website called The Art of Problem Solving. It has thousands of problems to solve that just need good old sweat and brain power!

ALCUMUS is a great source of problems with a lot of add on features. As shown on my record at left, there are 3 subjects offered: Algebra, Counting & Probability, and Number Theory. As you answer problems you gain experience points, which enable you to move up levels. The “game” adjusts the difficulty level according to your progress. From time to time, you are also given “quests” to complete. I am currently doing HIGH FIVE (1/5) and CHERRY PICKING (1/10). There is also a Report and Stats tab for more details.

If the above is not enough to get your mouth watering, there’s more.

Teachers can set up a class corresponding to a school class or club. Teachers are able to view the statistics of all students in the class and compare rankings of other students in the class. Optionally, students are able to see their rank within the class.

Here is a problem from Alcumus:

Once you have submitted a response (or given up), a worked solution is given. This is often very detailed with a proof. The initial part of the solution to this problem is:

I highly recommend that you give Alcumus a try. While there try out FTW! (For the Win)


About webmaths

I have been teaching Mathematics in Victorian secondary schools for 30 years. I use the www to make my maths lessons better. I hope this blog will give other teachers some ideas to try in their own classes.
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One Response to The Art of Problem Solving

  1. Pingback: Alcumus | A Recursive Process

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