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Loopy Logic Problems and Other Problems

Ivan Moscovich
Dover Publications
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
Mastermind Collection
[Reviewed by
Tom Schulte
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One of the most interesting things about this collection of logic puzzles is the focus on mechanical problems. Intricate representation of gears and models of pendulums lie alongside islands of dichotomous honesty, a handful of Frank Odd’s spirolaterals, and family members of guessable ages. There is no computation required; just ascertain the final motion or next position. As such, these puzzles are often visually as well as intellectually stimulating. Such challenges make for good material to project as a lecture aid, or for private musing. The target audience seems to be those looking to sharpen the mind without often being required to sharpen a pencil.

Whether it is singly or in the classroom, the audience needs no more preparation than that available in high school to wrestle successfully with this material. The author largely eschews algebraic argument or notation even when it seems obvious to use it, such as for problems relating to limits of a series or calculating a single unknown. At times, I feel the avoidance of algebra is taken too far, resulting in missed opportunities to hint at the power of factoring, forming an equation, or generalizing solutions. It is easy, however, to supplement the material to make engaging classroom capsules.

Scientific and mathematical facts accompany the eighty-five visual puzzles of this collection. Historical references are made to Galileo, Fibonacci, Aristotle, and other famous minds. All problems have solutions in the back of the book, which are generally paragraph-length explanations.

Tom Schulte instructs in mathematics at Oakland Community College in Michigan and is a senior software engineer with Plex Systems.