The sequence sneak thief!

We uncover another of Detective Mathema’s famous cases!

detective-mathemaWelcome Mathematicals to another story about Algebrus Mathema, the most famous mathematical detective in the world.

Whether it’s sequences or time, weights or algebra, Detective Mathema has the power to solve the puzzles.

Today’s story is about a time in Numeralville when Detective Mathema used a sequence of numbers to solve a very perplexing puzzle indeed.

It all began when there was a spate of burglaries. Every night for a week, a different house was broken into and, as you can imagine, the townsfolk were very upset! Well! Who wouldn’t be?

The first house was number 3, then number 5, followed in turn by numbers 9, 12, 14, 18 and then number 21.

The residents were worried – “who would be next?” they cried. So they called in our friend, Detective Mathema. He explored the evidence, look-ing at the houses that had been burgled in turn, before announcing “I will catch the culprit tonight” and off he went to watch over house number 23.

The next morning, everyone from the street gathered around number 23 and gasped in amazement when the front door opened and out walked Detective Mathema… and the captured burglar.

“How did you do it?” they wondered.

“Simple” replied Detective Mathema “It’s all down to sequences of num-bers. A sequence is when a list of things is linked by a rule – or a pattern. All I had to do was work out the pattern, and then I knew the next number in the sequence was 23!”
So how did Detective Mathema solve the puzzle?

“Well, the first house burgled was number 3, then 5, 9, 12, 14, 18 and then 21. All I had to do was work out the pattern in the numbers,” he explained.

“There were 2 numbers between the first two houses that were burgled, 4 between the next and 3 between the ones that were burgled after that.

This pattern then repeated. 2 houses between the next pair, then 4 and then 4 and then 3. This meant that the next number in the sequence would be 2 as the sequence started again. With the last house burgled be-ing number 21, I concluded that the house to wait at was 23. Mystery solved!”

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The Adventures of Detective Mathema with support from The Ernest Cook Trust.


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