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Maths Puzzles: Cryptarithms, Symbologies and Secret Codes

Explore and solve encrypted maths puzzles, in which numbers are replaced by letters or symbols, with this free online course.

50,998 enrolled on this course

Maths Puzzles: a photograph of old metal numbers

Maths Puzzles: Cryptarithms, Symbologies and Secret Codes

50,998 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 4 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Open level

Find out more about how to join this course

Explore fascinating maths puzzles

Discover maths puzzles, explore their history and practise problem-solving techniques.

You’ll explore: + Cryptarithms - puzzles where the digits have been replaced by letters. + Symbologies - puzzles where numbers are represented by symbols. + Mathematical operator puzzles - puzzles where the numbers are given, but the mathematical operator is missing (for example, what does the asterisk stand for in *1320=6?)

Through the course you will develop problem-solving skills, gain knowledge about the history, art and methodology of encrypted puzzles, and exercise your brain with fun challenges.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 21 seconds What does a mathematician do? A mathematician is a gate opener He provides the key To all the other natural sciences and beyond

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds Hello, I’m Dr. Yossi Elran and I would like to invite you to join me on a fun-packed journey into the mystery of symbology puzzles. and I would like to invite you to join me on a fun-packed journey into the mystery of symbology puzzles. Together, you and I will learn how to decipher and crack some very unusual math codes, from ancient Egyptian number hieroglyphs to modern day bar codes and from Roman numerals to operator puzzles We will take a good look at solving cryptarithms - coded math problems where each digit is encoded by a different letter and we’ll even solve some very odd problems where really next to nothing is known By the end of the course, you’ll have significantly upgraded your problem-solving skills, gained knowledge and insight into the history, art and methodology of solving encrypted math problems and exercised your brain with a lot of fun challenges.

Skip to 1 minute and 32 seconds Oh - I nearly forgot - we have a quest. To solve this! A puzzle sent to us by highly intelligent beings from outer space. What are they trying to tell us? We’ll need to use all the brainpower generated throughout the course in order to solve this… Are you in for the challenge?

What topics will you cover?

  • Encoding maths puzzles, secret codes and symbologies
  • Solving and creating cryptarithms - puzzles where numbers in a mathematical expressions are encoded
  • Genres of cryptarithm including, ancient Hindu problems and alphametics
  • Special and unique cryptarithms, including prime numbers, logarithms, square roots and powers
  • Symbologies from ancient times to modern bar codes
  • The language of computers including, binary, ternary and gray codes
  • Decrypting ancient Egyptian number systems, Roman and Greek numerals
  • Barcode puzzles and how to solve them
  • Different types of operator puzzles including unary, binary and ternary
  • Modern operators including, logic operators, text operators and operators in Excel

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Solve different kinds of cryptarithms and decipher symbologies
  • Synthesise the knowledge gained from all the different steps into a coherent view of the art of information concealment
  • Demonstrate puzzle solving skills
  • Improve problem solving skills and out-of-the-box thinking
  • Collaborate with other learners to solve problems
  • Apply problem solving strategies in new situations

Who is the course for?

The course is designed for anyone who enjoys popular science, recreational maths and solving maths puzzles and crosswords. It will be especially useful for parents or teachers looking to inspire a love of math and do fun math activities with young people.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a recreational mathematician and metagrobologist and head our institute's technology in education unit. I have a Ph.D. in theoretical quantum chemistry, and think math and science are really cool!

I am a math educator, certified editor and techno-pedagogue. I have an MSc. in computer science. My job is to create online recreational math activities for kids. I love working with them!

I am a mom of three, working at the Davidson Institute of Science education as a Recreational Mathematics projects coordinator.
I have a M.Sc in Biology and love the combination of art, math & science

Who developed the course?

Davidson Institute of Science Education at the Weizmann Institute of Science

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary basic research institutions in the natural and exact sciences. The Davidson Institute of Science Education is the educational arm of the Weizmann Institute.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save


Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$89/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 10 May 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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