Maths lecturer shares seven-year-old daughter's tricky maths question - and even he can't work it out
26 February 2021, 11:07
A dad has shared his daughter's tricky maths homework online - can you solve it?
A maths lecturer has shared an extremely tricky question from his seven-year-old daughter's homework, revealing that even he is struggling to solve it.
Dr Kit Yates, who is co-director of the Centre for Mathematical Biology at Bath University and author of The Maths Of Life And Death, shared a photo of the problem to Twitter.
He wrote: "This was my daughter’s (7) maths homework on Monday. Can someone help me out with the answer?
This was my daughter’s (7) maths homework on Monday.— Kit Yates (@Kit_Yates_Maths) February 24, 2021
Can someone help me out with the answer? pic.twitter.com/89wcUc8dlr
Dr Yates added: "I’m not being facetious here. I’m genuinely not sure what I should advise her the correct answer should be.
"For context this was, as far as I am aware, my daughter’s first introduction to angles."
I’m not being facetious here. I’m genuinely not sure what I should advise her the correct answer should be.— Kit Yates (@Kit_Yates_Maths) February 24, 2021
The post quickly went viral, with a number of people admitting that they were also stumped by the question.
Some attempted to answer the question, and there were a number of different and conflicted answers.
One person wrote: "I'm going for yes, on the basis that in as much as a single angle exists for a curved line it should be 90 degrees at those two points. (ie there's no other single value that makes sense)."
Another added: "I'd say no because there are curved lines but maybe I'm wrong. That seems damn tough for someone so young."
The answer is confusing as it could be either true or false - but Dr Yates later stated that it is technically 'false'.
According to an online answer sheet, kids could use the corner of the page to demonstrate that there aren't any right angles.
Not sure if you’ve seen this document but the question seems to be from here. I’m not a mathematician but I guess from the replies you’ve had there’s a difference between the answer for this learning stage and the correct answer 🤷🏻♀️https://t.co/jzeux8l2bo pic.twitter.com/K4PSeSCid7— Just Me and the Sky 💙 (@JustMeAndTheSky) February 24, 2021
He also said that there is a 'strong argument' that it could be 'true', telling the Mirror: "As a mathematician, though, I am aware that we can also think about the angle between two curved lines as the angle that their tangents (the straight lines parallel to the curve at that point) would make.
Dr Yates added that he would be using the problem with his own students, saying: "I am in a fortunate position that meant I felt I could be used this as an opportunity to talk to my daughter about how the answer could be either true or false depending on your understanding of 'angle'.
"But I'm sure not every parent, or teacher for that matter, would have the time to delve too far into this.
"It's actually a really deep and thought-provoking question which could be used later on in school to spark conversations about infinity, tangents, calculus and many more interesting mathematical concepts, but it might not be best for seven-year-olds being homeschooled by their parents!
"I'm going to set it as a riddle for my second year University Maths students next week to see what they come up with."