Just before the year 800, Alcuin of York sent Charlemagne a collection of arithmetical puzzles which he said were to be solved for fun. The puzzles he referred to are assumed to correspond to a collection of ‘Puzzles to Sharpen the Wits’ which survive in over a dozen medieval manuscripts.
The actual puzzles themselves are far older, however, and can be traced back to sources from Ancient Greece and Rome and beyond. The material would now be characterised as recreational mathematics and includes problems that are still found in modern books of brain teasers.
Join mathematicians Oliver Matheau-Raven and Scott Carson of the University of York as they introduce the puzzles at an informal session in the ancient and medieval arithmetical gymnasium.
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About the speakers
Scott Carson and Oliver Matheau-Raven are PhD students in mathematics at the University of York.