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Oliver Roeder is a senior writer and puzzle editor at FiveThirtyEight. He holds a PhD in economics with a focus on game theory. Previously, he ran the quantitative research team at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice.
Get the book here: https://goo.gl/FFiQjq
About the book, The Riddler:Fantastic Puzzles from FiveThirtyEight
Logic, statistics, probability, geometry, game theory, and much more!
How long will your smartphone keep you away from your family? How badly can a car salesman swindle you? Will you (yes, you) decide the election? These puzzles appear weekly on the internet in Oliver Roeder’s column, “The Riddler.” Presented by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, “The Riddler” attracts puzzlers of all skill levels who rush to submit their solutions online. Now, Norton is proud to present, for the first time, a collection—THE RIDDLER: Fantastic Puzzles from FiveThirtyEight [W. W. Norton & Company; October 9, 2018; $16.95 Original Paperback]—featuring the column’s most popular problems as well as never-before-published puzzles. Drawing on geometry, logic, statistics, and game theory, and containing detailed descriptions of solutions to help the reader understand the problems and learn new ways of thinking along the way, this is the perfect gift for any math or puzzle enthusiast.
In his Introduction, Roeder describes an 1865 acquisition to the British Museum: a brittle and breaking scroll of papyrus discovered in Egypt in the ruins of the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramesses II. Curators unrolled the scroll, placed it in a glass frame, and then, despite its rough condition, deciphered and translated it. Its text begins, “The entrance into the knowledge of all existing things and all obscure secrets.” Following this text is a collection of eighty-four of the world’s oldest math puzzles. Today, we would find these puzzles simple to solve. One, for example, asks us to find the volume of a cylindrical granary of diameter 9 and height 10. But these puzzles are special. As Roeder says, they “provide some of the clearest insights into the numerical methods of the ancient Egyptians, some of the world’s earliest mathematicians.”
Three millennia after the death of Ramesses II, FiveThirtyEight teamed up with Roeder to publish “The Riddler,” a weekly puzzle that’s complex and difficult—a testament to the great strides mathematics has taken in these past 3,000 years—but as immensely satisfying as the original puzzles would have been for the ancient Egyptians. “The Riddler” provides the unique opportunity for a community of enthusiasts to use basic math to make incredible discoveries in the ongoing quest for answers to everyday problems. This active set of readers submit ideas for new puzzles, and overflow Roeder’s inbox and Twitter feed with formulas, conjectures, diagrams, and videos—all proposed solutions to each week’s puzzle.
The forty-nine puzzles in THE RIDDLER are divided into three sections: Logic, Probability, and Geometry. The problems, which become more difficult as the reader proceeds in each category, ask numerous mind-bending questions:
Would you go to war for $1 trillion in gold?
Can you rig an election…with math?
Here’s $1 billion. Can you win the space race?
Will this species [of microorganism] survive?
Will the neurotic basketball player make his next free throw?
Is the [office building] bathroom occupied?
Can you win at Tetris?
How much will the picky eater eat?
THE RIDDLER is both fun and challenging. It’s therefore no surprise that the puzzles have even attracted the coach of the U.S. Math Olympiad team and a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. You, too, can solve these problems using your mathematical intuition and a little bit of determination. Bestselling author and founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver, has written a major foreword for the book, praising the “enticingly thorny problems that resemble the ones that I and other applied statisticians encounter in the real world.” This book will help you to stretch your brain, brush up on math, and learn to think in new ways. THE RIDDLER is a smart, modern twist on the age-old puzzle book. It’s perfect for those experienced in math and novices alike.