Math Challenge: The Irritating Polynomial Factoring Problem

Every math week, I plan to provide a math challenge which could take you seconds to hours to solve, assuming you don’t cheat by using technology to solve it for you.

Today, I offer a time filler I occasionally use while substituting a junior or senior high math class that has “completed” all of its work, usually before I even enter class. I learned this problem from Blaine Dowler of Sylvan Learning. Usually I reward the first person who solves it, and usually it is the “weakest” student who does it.

The challenge is: If the product of two numbers is two and their sum is five, what is the simplest sum of their inverses?

I would love to hear how you solved this challenge.

Good luck.

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One thought on “Math Challenge: The Irritating Polynomial Factoring Problem

  1. Pingback: A bit of fun: Shawn Urban’s math puzzle | cartesian product

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