Sunday Afternoon Maths XXI
Posted on 2014-07-20
\(n\) people stand in a circle. The first person takes a ball of wool, holds the end and passes the ball to his right, missing a people. Each person who receives the wool holds it and passes the ball on to their right, missing \(a\) people. Once the ball returns to the first person, a different coloured ball of wool is given to someone who isn't holding anything and the process is repeated. This is done until everyone is holding wool. For example, if \(n=10\) and \(a=3\):
In this example, two different coloured balls of wool are needed.
In terms of \(n\) and \(a\), how many different coloured balls of wool are needed?
Sum equals product
\(3\) and \(1.5\) are a special pair of numbers, as \(3+1.5=4.5\) and \(3\times 1.5=4.5\) so \(3+1.5=3\times 1.5\).
Given a number \(a\), can you find a number \(b\) such that \(a+b=a\times b\)?