Puzzles and mathematical recreations

Like most Science students, I find fascinating the ingenuity that lies beneath the, in many cases deceptively simple, puzzles and mathematical recreations. Here I have collected some with pointers to many more.


A couple of titles with a wealth of examples, puzzles and techniques to solve them.

book cover Mathematical Circles
Dmitri Fomin, Sergey Genkin, and Ilia Itenberg (1996)

This is a superb book. Grown out of a rich Russian mathematical tradition, it covers subjects from high school curriculum and beyond. Starting with very simple examples that everybody can tackle, tecniques to solve them are introduced that will be later used in dealing with extremely challenging problems. A must.


book cover How to Solve It: Modern Heuristics
Zbigniew Michalewicz and David B. Fogel (1998)

This is a volume that I have recently discovered. Much more technical and advanced than Mathematical Circles, I include it here because it contains an exhilarating puzzle section at the beginning of each chapter.


book cover

What is Mathematics?
Richard Courant and Herbert Robbins

This book is not about puzzles but about Mathematics itself, in capital letters. It covers number systems, geometry, topology, and calculus, in a most delightful and thorough way. I include it here first because it should appeal to anyone with a keen interest in mathematics, among who are many puzzle solvers. And secondly, because it is THE book. I wish I had had it when I was 15 and someone to guide me through it.


book cover The Colossal Book of Mathematics
Martin Gardner

A collection of Martin Gardner's most acclaimed columns in Scientific American. The topics range from nontransitive dice and Escher's drawings, to time travel, four dimensional churches, and paradoxes of all kinds. A joy to read.