649 research outputs found

    Josephus Words

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    In the articles on Magic Spells (Word Ways, Feb and May 2010) it was proposed that tricks could be performed with a deck of n letter cards. The deck would be prearranged, spelling some word u. There would be a skip sequence of integers k1, k2, ..., kn; the more natural the sequence the better

    Wordplay in Ancient Greece

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    The Greek Anthology is a collection of Greek poetry compiled by Constantine Cephalas during the 10th century, known today from the only extant copy in the Palatine Library at Heidelberg. David Singmaster recently discovered that this work contains hundreds of mathematical puzzles. his 1984 article on this topic in the Mathematical Spectrum gives an excellent overview of these; however, they are rarely challenging and often repetitive

    Sherlockiana

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    Word Puzzles selected from Victorian Engimas and Sherlockian Puzzles by the author

    Planet Packing Revisited

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    Ross Eckler discusses a problem in his article Planet Packing in the May 2001 Word Ways: given a list of words, such as the names of the planets, how efficiently can they be packed into a single string of characters so that each word on the list can be read off left to right (but not necessarily contiguously)? He hypothesizes there is no guarantee that any algorithm will end up with a minimum string. Since the design and analysis of algorithms has been my area of research for some 25 years, this caught my attention. Informally, an algorithm is a terminating procedure that could be coded as a computer program. (However, the procedure in the Planet Packing article does not contain enough tie-breaking rules to qualify as an algorithm)

    Once More: What Is a Word?

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    In recent issues of Word Ways, Dmitri Borgmann and Richard Lederer struggled with the age-old linguistic question What is a word? without coming to any very satisfactory conclusions. In fact, both authors convinced me what a word is not: a collection of letters strung together (with or without spaces), or simply a collection of morphemes. This note attempts to shed a little further light on the problem
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