Math Monday: Math-play with your food

Math-play with your food

By George Hart for the Museum of Mathematics

Making things with your food is an age-old pastime. Here are two mathematical constructions made from crackers.


This illustrates the Pythagorean Theorem for a 5-12-13 right triangle. The number of crackers in the two small squares (25+144) equals the number of crackers in the square on the hypotenuse (169).


With triangular crackers, this 3-4-5 right triangle illustrates a more general idea. The number of crackers in the two small triangles (9+16) equals the number of crackers in the large triangle (25).

Here is an introduction to the Pythagorean Theorem, with two simple proofs, and here is a detailed explanation of why this generalization works.


Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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