Diophantus, the life of a father...

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Diophantus, the life of a father...

Post  John on Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:09 am

The famed algebraist Diophantus, of equationnotoriety, lived a relatively long life. Relatively long compared his son, for example. The following inscription can be found on 'his' tomb:

'Here lies Diophantus,' the wonder behold. Through art algebraic, the stone tells how old: 'God gave him his boyhood one-sixth of his life, One twelfth more as youth while whiskers grew rife; And then yet one-seventh ere marriage begun; In five years there came a bouncing new son. Alas, the dear child of master and sage After attaining half the measure of his father's life chill fate took him. After consoling his fate by the science of numbers for four years, he ended his life.'

So, how old was Diophantus? For extra credit and a half, how old was his son? Solution
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John
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Re: Diophantus, the life of a father...

Post  John on Tue Oct 16, 2012 5:01 pm

Upon re-reading this delightful puzzle, it is clear that the last sentence on the tomb includes a vague reference. Reading the last sentence as referring to the previous use of 'him' for instance, implies that the son consoled his own fate for four years and then ended his life. Of course, this can't be correct since that would make Diophantus' age at death a mere 8 years. Then again, if he was able to procreate at 4, he was obviously prodigious enough to invent algebraic awesomeness...
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