Famous Math and Logic Paradoxes

Math and Logic are full of paradoxes.tortoise

1. Achilles and the Tortoise The Paradox of Achilles and the Tortoise was described by the Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea in the 5th century BC. The great hero Achilles challenges a tortoise to a footrace. He agrees to give the tortoise a head start of 100m. When the race begins, Achilles starts running, so that by the time he has reached the 100m mark, the tortoise has only walked 10m. But by the time Achilles has reached the 110m mark, the tortoise has walked another 1m. By the time he has reached the 111m mark, the tortoise has walked another 0.1m, then 0.01m, then 0.001m, and so on. The tortoise always moves forwards while Achilles always plays catch up.  Why is Achilles always behind the tortoise?

bermudatriangle2. Bermuda Triangle Paradox. Why the sum of the interior angles of the Bermuda triangle is not 180 degrees?

3. Simpson Paradox. The average score for dance of boys and girls in class A are 16 and 21, respectively.  The average score of boys and girls in class B are 15 and 20, respectively.  Twenty percent of class A students are girls. Forty percent of class B students are girls.  Which class has a higher average score?

roadnetwork_24.  Braess paradox. The diagram shows a road network. All cars drive in one direction from A to F. The numbers represent the maximum flow rate in vehicles per hour. Engineers want to construct a new road with a flow rate of 100 vehicles per hour. Drivers randomly choose the road at  crossroads. What new road decreases the capacity of the network (the number of vehicles at point F)?Beard grooming.

5. Barber Paradox  In a city, the barber is the ‘one who shaves all those, and those only, who do not shave themselves.’
Who shaves the barber?

6. The Two Envelope Paradox. One envelope has twice as much money as the second one. Gerry does not know which envelope contains the larger  amount. He takes one of the envelopes, counts the money, and is offered the chance to switch the envelope. He thinks “If the amount of money in the chosen envelope is X dollars, then the other envelope contains either 2X of 0.5X dollars, with equal probability of 0.5. The expected value of switching is  0.5 (2X) + 0.5 (0.5X) = 1.25X. This is greater than the value in the initially chosen envelope.  It is better to switch.”  What is your advice?

7. Potato Paradox. I have 100kg of potatoes, which are 99 percent water. I dry them until they are 98 percent water.  How much do they weigh now?

8.  Leonard Euler’s Paradox.   Why the average of all  of the numbers is not a zero?

1, -1, 2, -2, 3, -3, . . .

9. Friendship Paradox.  Your friends have more friends than you. Why?

10. Uninteresting Number Paradox. How many uninteresting numbers exist?

aplusclickhorn11. Gabriel’ Horn Paradox. The shape obtained from rotating the equation about x-axis resembles a trumpet. If we need an infinite volume of paint to paint the infinite horn, how much paint does the horn can contain inside itself?

12. Pop Quiz Paradox. A teacher announces that there will be a quiz one day during the next week. The teacher gives the definition that they would not when they come in to the class that the quiz was going to be given that day. The brightest student says that the quiz cannot be on Friday because they will know the day. With the same technique, she eliminates Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, and Monday. “You cannot give us a pop quiz next week” she says. When does the teacher give the pop quiz?  I know the paradox from Charles Carter Wald. Probably, Martin Gardner described it for the first time in The Colossal Book of Mathematics.



1. Achilles and the Tortoise

2. Bermuda Triangle Paradox

3. Simpson Paradox

4.  Braess paradox

5. Barber Paradox

6. The Two Envelope Paradox

7. Potato Paradox

8.  Leonard Euler’s Paradox

9. Friendship Paradox

10. Uninteresting Number Paradox

11. Gabriel’s Horn Paradox

12. Pop Quiz Paradox


Car Owner’s Puzzles

Can a specific subject provokes interest to Math?

For example, cars. How much does the gas cost in a month? What speed to choose? When do I need to change the tires? How to be on time? How much do I pay for a car during its life? . . .


What are other intersting subjects? Finance? Love? Sport?

Classics of Recreational Math

The classical recreational math authors are Lewis Carroll,  Henry DudleyMartin GardnerSam Loyd, and Yakov Perelman.

This an example of classical math puzzles: http://www.aplusclick.com/k/5423.htm :

(102 + 112 + 122) – (132 + 142) = ?

The picture “Mental Count” of Russian painter Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky contains the simple calculation. Image source : Wikipedia



Dream Math

Everybody dreams.

rsauter-boyThe boy dreams of being an astronaut.

How long does he need to study and work until his dream can become reality?



Which job does not require math?


The photograph courtesy of Roland Sauter


Extraordinary Math Teaching by Dan Finkel

Dan Finkel suggested principles of extraordinary math teaching:

Math can the best of time or the worst of time.



1) Start with a question.

2) Thinking happens only when you have time to struggle.

3) (Teacher), you are not the answer key.

4) Say yes to your students’ ideas.

5) Play!

A marvelous quotation is attributed to the most brilliant scientist of the modern age, Albert Einstein: “Play is the highest form of research.”




Project Starters

Challenging puzzlers to create a positive attitude to real projects.

Estimate or Calculate?

” in the real world, we constantly settle for estimates, whereas mathematics — see the SAT — demands that you get the answer precisely right.” – Andrew Hacker in The New York Times article “The Wrong Way We Teach Math


boy sitting on money, money concept

Estimate or Calculate?

My answer is one of them and do it fast.