This book is the heavyweight champion of problems in recreational mathematics, containing a large number of very detailed problems in many areas. The presentation strategy is to develop the topic by using problems followed by an explanation followed by a detailed solution. The style is largely that of a textbook, which in fact is what it is designed to be. The authors developed the material as the main text for a course they teach in applied problem solving.
The chapters are largely independent, so it is possible to pick and chose the topics for a course. Do not let the word recreational in the title lead you to believe that these problems are bunnies. I am a co-editor of Journal of Recreational Mathematics and I found myself thinking long and hard about some of these problems. Granted, many are straightforward, but there are enough of the head-scratching variety to satisfy every taste. The general topics are logic, basic number theory, graph theory and games, with a few other topics interspersed.
With hundreds of problems, detailed solutions to the demonstrations and hints for most included, this is a resource unlike all others. If you teach a course in mathematical problem solving or beginning computer programming, you cannot help finding a problem in here that you can use to illustrate a topic or as a test question. I have already used a couple as the seeds for some programming exercises. Better yet, consider it as a textbook for your course in mathematical problem solving.
Published in Journal of Recreational Mathematics, reprinted with permission.
on March 28, 2000
I first became acquainted with this book about twenty years ago when it first appeared. Since it didn't fit into a standard niche in college mathematics curricula, it never really caught on and, before the Dover edition, was out of print for a number of years.
This was a shame, as this is both a wonderful and remarkable book. It has a broad appeal; amateur mathematicians, professional mathematicians, and puzzle buffs should all find something in it to interest them. It is both fun and rewarding at the same time. One can learn a great deal of mathematics from it. It also contains a method for solving linear Diophantine equations that I have never seen anywhere else.
The authors have added a chapter on probability which should further enhance this highly original work.