# MM Links April 2012 Week 4

Well all too soon it is my last week as setter of the MM Links. Once again I have enjoyed setting them and watching avidly on a Sat morning to see how quickly they are guessed. I wonder if Bigmac will do as well as he did last week and guess them all again?! Perhaps I will "be on his wavelength", as he is on mine, if he is ever the setter!

Numbers have fascinated me since I was very young when I was one of the few who actually liked learning my tables. Numbers are everywhere, but some are more special than others. They are usually the first thing we learn in a foreign language along with hello and goodbye. The first use of numbers was possibly with bones and other artefacts which were discovered with tally marks cut into them. These tally marks may have been used for counting elapsed time, such as numbers of days, lunar cycles or keeping records of quantities, such as of animals. We are all familiar with odds and evens, primes, squares, cubes and triangular numbers but what about some of the others? Negative numbers can be seen on our outdoor thermometers. Natural numbers are the counting numbers 1,2,3 and so on. Integers include the counting numbers and their negatives. Numbers can be rational or irrational or complex, all with different mathematical meanings.

Some numbers traditionally have alternative words to express them, including the following: 0 can be nil, zilch, nothing, zero; 1 can be a single; 2 can be a pair, couple or brace, 3 a trio, 6 a half-dozen (although many youngsters don't seem to know the word dozen!) ; 12 a dozen; 13 a baker's dozen (dating back centuries when bakers used to give 13 loaves for every dozen ordered so as to be sure not to cheat the buyer in case of low weight of his loaves); 20 a score; 100 a century; 144 a gross.

Mathematically a " perfect number" is a whole number equal to the sum of its divisors. The smallest perfect number is 6 - its divisors 1,2 and 3 add up to 6. The next perfect number is 28 being the sum of 1,2,4,7,14. The next 3 perfect numbers are 496, 8128 and 333550336.

I have loved sudoku puzzles since the first ones appeared in the Telegraph and the Times in late 2004 and still try to manage at least one every day. I have tried the many variations but still prefer the "killer" sudoku puzzles where you are given totals of groups of squares within the 9 x 9 grid and you then have to fill in all the numbers.
08:45 Sat 28th Apr 2012

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