# Math Problem Tips: How to Solve Any Math Problem with Ease

Alcumus is our free adaptive learning system. It offers students a customized learning experience, adjusting to their performance to deliver problems that will challenge them appropriately. Alcumus is aligned to our Introductory Math, Intermediate Algebra, and Precalculus online courses and textbooks.

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The MATHCOUNTS Trainer has thousands of problems from previous School, Chapter, State, and National MATHCOUNTS competitions. Full solutions are provided for every problem so aspiring MATHCOUNTS mathletes can learn how to approach even the toughest questions.

Many mathematical problems have been stated but not yet solved. These problems come from many areas of mathematics, such as theoretical physics, computer science, algebra, analysis, combinatorics, algebraic, differential, discrete and Euclidean geometries, graph theory, group theory, model theory, number theory, set theory, Ramsey theory, dynamical systems, and partial differential equations. Some problems belong to more than one discipline and are studied using techniques from different areas. Prizes are often awarded for the solution to a long-standing problem, and some lists of unsolved problems, such as the Millennium Prize Problems, receive considerable attention.

This list is a composite of notable unsolved problems mentioned in previously published lists, including but not limited to lists considered authoritative. Although this list may never be comprehensive, the problems listed here vary widely in both difficulty and importance.

Various mathematicians and organizations have published and promoted lists of unsolved mathematical problems. In some cases, the lists have been associated with prizes for the discoverers of solutions.

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A mathematical problem is a problem that can be represented, analyzed, and possibly solved, with the methods of mathematics. This can be a real-world problem, such as computing the orbits of the planets in the solar system, or a problem of a more abstract nature, such as Hilbert's problems. It can also be a problem referring to the nature of mathematics itself, such as Russell's Paradox.

In general, to use mathematics for solving a real-world problem, the first step is to construct a mathematical model of the problem. This involves abstraction from the details of the problem, and the modeller has to be careful not to lose essential aspects in translating the original problem into a mathematical one. After the problem has been solved in the world of mathematics, the solution must be translated back into the context of the original problem.

Abstract mathematical problems arise in all fields of mathematics. While mathematicians usually study them for their own sake, by doing so, results may be obtained that find application outside the realm of mathematics. Theoretical physics has historically been a rich source of inspiration.

Some abstract problems have been rigorously proved to be unsolvable, such as squaring the circle and trisecting the angle using only the compass and straightedge constructions of classical geometry, and solving the general quintic equation algebraically. Also provably unsolvable are so-called undecidable problems, such as the halting problem for Turing machines.

Computers do not need to have a sense of the motivations of mathematicians in order to do what they do.[1] Formal definitions and computer-checkable deductions are absolutely central to mathematical science.

Such degradation of problems into exercises is characteristic of mathematics in history. For example, describing the preparations for the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos in the 19th century, Andrew Warwick wrote:

Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems.The motivation for starting Project Euler, and its continuation, is to provide a platform for the inquiring mind to delve into unfamiliar areas and learn new concepts in a fun and recreational context.

The intended audience include students for whom the basic curriculum is not feeding their hunger to learn, adults whose background was not primarily mathematics but had an interest in things mathematical, and professionals who want to keep their problem solving and mathematics on the cutting edge.

Currently we have1039311 registered members who have solved at least one problem, representing 220 locations throughout the world, and collectively using 111 different programming languages to solve the problems.

The problems range in difficulty and for many the experience is inductive chain learning. That is, by solving one problem it will expose you to a new concept that allows you to undertake a previously inaccessible problem. So the determined participant will slowly but surely work his/her way through every problem.

A young college student was working hard in an upper-level math course, for fear that he would be unable to pass. On the night before the final, he studied so long that he overslept the morning of the test.

"You were only supposed to do the first two problems," the professor explained. "That last one was an example of an equation that mathematicians since Einstein have been trying to solve without success. I discussed it with the class before starting the test. And you just solved it!"

One day in 1939, George Bernard Dantzig, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, arrived late for a graduate-level statistics class and found two problems written on the board. Not knowing they were examples of "unsolved" statistics problems, he mistook them for part of a homework assignment, jotted them down, and solved them. (The equations Dantzig tackled are more accurately described not as unsolvable problems, but rather as unproven statistical theorems for which he worked out proofs.)

Six weeks later, Dantzig's statistics professor notified him that he had prepared one of his two "homework" proofs for publication, and Dantzig was given co-author credit on a second paper several years later when another mathematician independently worked out the same solution to the second problem.

The second of the two problems, however, was not published until after World War II. It happened this way. Around 1950 I received a letter from Abraham Wald enclosing the final galley proofs of a paper of his about to go to press in the Annals of Mathematical Statistics. Someone had just pointed out to him that the main result in his paper was the same as the second "homework" problem solved in my thesis. I wrote back suggesting we publish jointly. He simply inserted my name as coauthor into the galley proof.

The origin of that minister's sermon can be traced to another Lutheran minister, the Reverend Schuler [sic] of the Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles. He told me his ideas about thinking positively, and I told him my story about the homework problems and my thesis. A few months later I received a letter from him asking permission to include my story in a book he was writing on the power of positive thinking. Schuler's published version was a bit garbled and exaggerated but essentially correct. The moral of his sermon was this: If I had known that the problem were not homework but were in fact two famous unsolved problems in statistics, I probably would not have thought positively, would have become discouraged, and would never have solved them.

The version of Dantzig's story published by Christian televangelist Robert Schuller contained a good deal of embellishment and misinformation which has since been propagated in urban legend-like forms of the tale such as the one quoted at the head of this page: Schuller converted the mistaken homework assignment into a "final exam" with ten problems (eight of which were real and two of which were "unsolvable"), claimed that "even Einstein was unable to unlock the secrets" of the two extra problems, and erroneously stated that Dantzig's professor was so impressed that he "gave Dantzig a job as his assistant, and Dantzig has been at Stanford ever since."

George Dantzig (himself the son of a mathematician) received a Bachelor's degree from University of Maryland in 1936 and a Master's from the University of Michigan in 1937 before completing his Doctorate (interrupted by World War II) at UC Berkeley in 1946. He later worked for the Air Force, took a position with the RAND Corporation as a research mathematician in 1952, became professor of operations research at Berkeley in 1960, and joined the faculty of Stanford University in 1966, where he taught and published as a professor of operations research until the 1990s. In 1975, Dr. Dantzig was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Gerald Ford.

In order to celebrate mathematics in the new millennium, The Clay Mathematics Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts (CMI) established seven Prize Problems. The Prizes were conceived to record some of the most difficult problems with which mathematicians were grappling at the turn of the second millennium; to elevate in the consciousness of the general public the fact that in mathematics, the frontier is still open and abounds in important unsolved problems; to emphasize the importance of working towards a solution of the deepest, most difficult problems; and to recognize achievement in mathematics of historical magnitude.

The prizes were announced at a meeting in Paris, held on May 24, 2000 at the Collège de France. Three lectures were presented: Timothy Gowers spoke on The Importance of Mathematics; Michael Atiyah and John Tate spoke on the problems themselves.

Following the decision of the Scientific Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of CMI designated a $7 million prize fund for the solutions to these problems, with $1 million allocated to the solution of each problem.

It is of note that one of the seven Millennium Prize Problems, the Riemann hypothesis, formulated in 1859, also appears in the list of twenty-three problems discussed in the address given in Paris by David Hilbert on August 9, 1900.