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99 Word Problems

Monday, 6/14/2010

The idea to convert Jay-Z’s 99 Problems into 99 Word Problems came to me many months ago, but beyond the title I didn’t initially think I’d be able to adapt the lyrics and rhythm to a math song. I also was starting to tire of making math song parodies. I’m not sure what caused me to recently regain interest and revisit this idea – Likely the free time for such things that comes with summer vacation.

Three word problems of increasing difficulty are posed in the lyrics, with the idea that I might offer extra credit to the first student next year who can correctly answer all three. The questions along with some clarifications are:

  1. How many students are in my class? Assume all students are categorized into exactly one of the described groups (i.e. the groups are mutually exclusive).
  2. How many miles did I travel? This includes the total distance from the corner to my mama’s crib and back. Assume constant velocity. Assume I traveled the same route for both trips.
  3. What is the chick’s seven-digit phone number? Assume that all of the three-, four-, and seven-digit squares have a nonzero leading digit. With the stated restriction that the first digit is not one, the solution is unique.
  4. For super mathematical hot shots only, this problem is not posed in the song, but it’s an extension of question #3: Find a ten-digit phone number in the form of xxx-xxx-xxxx such that all of the following are perfect squares:
  • the leading three-digit number (with a nonzero leading digit), representing an area code
  • the three-digit number between the two dashes (with a nonzero leading digit)
  • the trailing four-digit number (with a nonzero leading digit)
  • the entire number read without the dashes as a ten-digit number

    There are six solutions that satisfy the stated requirements/restrictions. Note that for the sake of this problem, the leading digit of either three-digit section is allowed to be one even though that is not permissible for actual U.S. phone numbers.

I made up all of these word problems. The first two are pretty typical of what one might find in a text book or puzzle book. Problems #3 and #4 are similar in nature to ones I’ve seen in math puzzle books, but I’ve never seen these exact problems before. I also was unable to find these two problems presented anywhere on the internet.

99 Word Problems

Click image to play mp3 version of song by Mista Whizz-ite


99 Problems

Click image to play one-minute clip from the song by Jay-Z
(mp3 file will play from a new browser window)