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How to Free Your Inner MathematicianNotes on Mathematics and Life$
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Susan D'Agostino

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198843597

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198843597.001.0001

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Pursue an easier approach, considering the Pigeonhole Principle

Pursue an easier approach, considering the Pigeonhole Principle

(p.101) 16 Pursue an easier approach, considering the Pigeonhole Principle
How to Free Your Inner Mathematician

Susan D'Agostino

Oxford University Press

“Pursue an easier approach, considering the Pigeonhole Principle” offers an introduction to a mathematical principle by way of answering a version of a popular mathematics question: “are there are two non-bald people in London with the same number of hairs on their heads?” Formally, the Pigeonhole Principle is stated: If n items are put into m containers and n>m, then at least one container contains more than one item. The discussion is illustrated with numerous hand-drawn sketches. The Pigeonhole Principle allows readers to solve problems that seem to require counting, without ever having to count. Mathematics students and enthusiasts are encouraged to pursue engaging, if unconventional, paths as they work toward solutions in mathematics and life. At the chapter’s end, readers may check their understanding by working on a problem. A solution is provided.

Keywords:   Pigeonhole Principle, counting, math, student, mathematical principle

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