Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Angela:

Taking 1 through 9 and using them only once subtract them to equal 33333


This is a nice problem -- it's neither too easy nor too hard. I'll get you started, so that with just a little thought on your part you should be able to finish it. The top number must consist of 5 digits, the bottom must have 4 digits. That means the top number must begin with either 3 or 4. If you try to begin it with 3, though, you'll quickly run into trouble. So begin with a 4 on the left, which means you'll have to borrow for the next term. Because 1 and 2 seemed hard to work with in my first attempt, I tried a 1 next, followed by a 2 (so the top number is 412**). That allows you to predict with near certainty the left two digits of the bottom number. There are so few digits left over now, you should be able to finish the job (with no more borrowing!). If you still can't solve the problem, write back for another hint.


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