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During one of his talks on Ted Professor of Mathematics Arthur Benjamin proves that he is indeed able to count faster than a calculator. He squares 2, 3, 4 and even 5-digit numbers, multiplies 3-digit numbers by 4-digit numbers and even tells you the day of the week that you were born on based on your date of birth. All of this is done in only a few seconds making it look like a magic trick. But even though Arthur calls himself a “Mathemagician”, there is actually no magic involved. He is just really that good at memorizing things and performing high-speed calculations in his head.
Which is lucky for those of you who want to know how he is doing this. Because a Mathemagician reveals his secrets. In the end of his presentation Arthur explains his calculation method.
To put it simply this is what he does:
- He breaks any number n into 2 parts ‘a’ and ‘b’ (a + b)
- He then uses the well-known algebra principle that (a+ b)2 = a2 + 2ab + b2
- And he keeps the partial results in his memory by using words to represent the numbers
Still sounds complicated? Don’t worry, it really is. He wasn’t named “America’s Best Math Whiz” by Readers’ Digest and got featured in the New York Times for no reason.