by Nishant Pappireddi

The first step is to solve the math problems. The solutions are shown in this PDF.

As noted in the above document, each problem involves a theorem or other mathematical concept which is named after a mathematician. There are 14 such mathematicians, each associated with a pair of problems. As clued by the flavortext, the two answers for each pair should be added together, giving a sum which can be indexed into the alphabet to get a letter. Within each pair of problems, one problem assigns a variable letter between A and N to the value it asks for, and the pairs can be ordered in this way.

Thus, we get the following extracted letters:

Variable LetterMathematicianProblem #’sAnswers and SumExtracted Letter
AMinkowski5, 142+1=3C
BGauss12, 213+6=9I
CWeierstrass4, 63+15=18R
DEuclid10, 272+1=3C
EEuler15, 2513+(-1)=12L
FCauchy2, 173+2=5E
GAbel1, 191+2=3C
HLagrange18, 237+8=15O
IFermat3, 282+12=14N
JLegendre13, 201+18=19S
KFrobenius8, 95+15+20T
LRiemann22, 24-12+13=1A
MDedekind11, 166+8=14N
NCayley7, 264+16=20T

This gives the cluephrase CIRCLE CONSTANT, which clues the final answer, PI.

Authors' Notes

This was one of my earliest puzzle ideas for Mystery Hunt, and I made a prototype of it for our internal puzzle potluck. With the theme of overloaded mathematical names, I was deciding between math concepts named for mathematicians and those named for regular English words (e.g., normal, simple, or regular). I eventually decided that the former was more interesting, since there were more options.

I really enjoyed studying math during my undergrad. However, I haven’t had much time to do it in recent years, which is why I was glad to be able to write this puzzle. Typing up the problems and solutions in LaTeX was a nostalgic throwback to when I typed up my math homework back in college. In fact, I typed up some of this puzzle’s content in the same college library that I frequented all those years ago.

It was probably clear from the distribution of problems that I prefer and have more experience with algebra compared to analysis. Dummit and Foote was one of my favorite math textbooks, and I once went through all of its chapters. I apologize to those who would have liked more problems in analysis and other areas.