## Monday Math Madness is here!

I was contacted last week by a couple of Matlab geeks, Quan and Daniel, who have started a blog, Blinkdagger, about co-sponsoring an ongoing Math contest. Now, I was a little confused because I think these guys are engineers, and I didn't know that engineers took Math classes (Maybe these guys learned Calculus in the 4th grade.) Anyway, their email got past my spam filter so I figured this relationship was meant to be! So, (drum roll, please), Blinkdagger and Wild About Math! have teamed up to post fun Math puzzles on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month. There'll be a prize for the best combination of randomly selected right answer plus good explanation of how you got your answer.

Here's how Monday Math Madness will work. I'll post a problem on the first Monday of the month. You solve it. You email your answer and explanation to the special email address for the contest. A randomly selected excellent submission wins the prize. Two weeks later, on the third Monday of the month, the Blinkdagger guys post their problem. You solve, submit, and maybe win a prize. Then, it's back to this blog the first Monday of next month.

Here's the first contest problem:

A popular blog has just three categories: brilliant, insightful, and clever. Every blog post belongs to exactly one of the three categories and the category for each post is selected at random. What is the probability of reading at least one post from each category if a reader reads exactly five posts?

I will send a $10 gift certificate to Amazon.com to a randomly selected person who provides a good answer to this problem. Good answers are correct, clearly explained, and ideally elegant although not all problems will have elegant solutions. If you cheat and find the answer to this or to a future problem on Google please change a few words to throw us off the scent as we'd rather give the prize to someone who actually solved the problem. We will show off the first good randomly selected solution, after Daniel, Quan, and I pick it by posting it to our blogs. We may also post some other good solutions and give out some link love so, if you have a blog, let us know your URL when you email your solution. All entries must be submitted by Sunday night after the posting Monday as I'll be checking mail Monday morning. The special submission mailbox is MondayMathMadness at g/m/a/i/l/./c/o/m. (Discard the slashes and turn the "at" into "@".)

I'll be contacting manufacturers of Math-related products and see if I can round up Math books, games, toys, and puzzles to give as prizes. If not then I'll keep giving out Amazon certificates. The Blinkdagger guys get to choose their own prizes. They might want to outdo me and give away sports cars or copies of Matlab, or something.

Note: You only get to win once per year. So, if you win then immediately unsubscribe from our blogs we'll understand.

I, and the Matlab guys at Blinkdagger, would appreciate your telling your friends about Monday Math Madness and talking it up on your blogs. I realize that you might only want to tell your friends who are not as good at solving Math puzzles as you are. Just know that we are desperate for blog readers and we would love to have your competitors know about this madness even if it's at your expense.

Sincerely,

Quan, Daniel, and Sol

Cube photo by dps

Lim Ee HaiMarch 4th, 2008 - 03:57

Yes, engineers do study maths. They handle many computations and model systems to analyse their limits and weakness. Many a times, maths reveal some properties that the naked eye cannot see. Therefore maths serves as the “eye” for engineers too.

Ξ_HeatherMarch 5th, 2008 - 16:45

Great idea! I gave this problem to one of my classes to solve today, along with a explanation of how to submit solutions, so I hope you hear from some of them.

SolMarch 5th, 2008 - 17:26

@Lim Ee Hai: Yes, I know engineers study Math. I just like to give the Matlab guys a hard time.

@Heather: Excellent! That’s a great idea to get your students engaged. One of them might win the $10 from Amazon. Are all of you teachers out there paying attention?