Educational magic tricks based on error-detecting codes

September 2016


Ronald I. Greenberg

Loyola University Chicago

Magic tricks based on discrete mathematics and computing concepts help grab student attention and can motivate them to delve more deeply. Error detection ideas long used by computer scientists provide a rich basis for working magic; probably the most well known trick of this type is one included in the CS Unplugged activities. This paper shows that much more powerful variations of the trick can be performed, some in an unplugged environment and some with computer assistance. Some of the tricks also show off additional applied mathematics concepts in the areas of information theory and cryptography.

Suggested Citation

Ronald I. Greenberg. Educational magic tricks based on error-detecting codes. Presented at 2016 SIAM Conference on Applied Mathematics Education, September 2016. Philadelphia, PA.