W.W.Rouse Ball and H.S.M.Coxeter

Preface to 10th edition

This book contains Descriptions of various problems of the kind usually termed Mathematical Recreations, and a few Essays on some analogous questions. I have excluded all matter which involves advanced mathematics. I hasten to add that the conclusions are of no practical use, and that most of the results are not new. If therefore the reader proceeds further he is at least forewarned. At the same time I think I may say that many of the questions discussed are interesting, not a few are associated with the names of distinguished mathematicians, while hitherto several of the memoirs quoted have not been easily accessible to English readers. A great deal of new matter has been added since the work was first issued in 1892.

As now presented, the book contains fourteen chapters, of which the subjects are shown in the Table of Contents. Several of the questions mentioned in the first four chapters are of a somewhat trivial character, and had they been treated in any standard English work to which I could have referred the reader, I should have left them out: in the absence of such a work, I thought it better to insert them and trust to the judicious reader to omit them altogether or to skim them as he feels inclined. I may add that in discussing problems where the complete solutions are long or intricate I have been generally content to indicate memoirs or books in which the methods are set out at length, and to give a few illustrative examples. In some cases I have also stated problems which still await solution.

I have inserted detailed references, as far as I know them, to the sources of the various questions and solutions given; also, wherever I have given only the result of a theorem, I have tried to indicate authorities where a proof may be found. In general, unless it is stated otherwise, I have taken the references direct from the original works; but, in spite of considerable time verifying them, I dare not suppose that they are free from all errors or misprints.



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