Damsel And Suitor
April 21, 2017
Chris Smith tweets mathematical curiosities at @aap03102. This one caught my eye the other day:
This is from 1779: a time when puzzles were written in poetry, solutions were assumed to be integers and answers could be a bit creepy:
Questions proposed in 1779, and answered in 1780.
I. QUESTION 742, by Mr. John Penberthy.
I’m in love with a damsel, the pride of the plain,
Have courted and talk’d in Ovidian strain;
But vain is the rhetoric us’d by my tongue,
She says I’m too old and that she is too young:
From the foll’wing equations, dear ladies, unfold;
If she be too young, or if I be too old.
x3 + xy2 = 4640y
x2y − y3 = 537.6x
Where x represents my age, and y the damsel’s.
Your task is to compute the ages of the damsel and her suitor. When you are finished, you are welcome to read or run a suggested solution, or to post your own solution or discuss the exercise in the comments below.
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