A Guide to the Maths in the Murderous Maths Books
This page is primarily intended for home educators, homeschoolers and anyone else
who is coaching maths on an individual basis.
A message from the author:
When I was first asked to write "Murderous Maths", I only accepted the commission
on condition that I was NOT required to produce any sort of textbook. I always saw
"Murderous Maths" as an excuse to create books that people would choose to read for fun.
My priorities have always been:
 Something funny to read. Each book has a few short stories involving the
characters so there should be a few bits to enjoy even for people who hate maths.

Good amusing illustrations  and I've been very lucky with the artists. In recent
years I've been working very closely with the genius Philip Reeve whose cartoon
strips are hilarious, and yet they can clearly explain some quite complex topics.
 Tricks! The joy of maths is that it lends itself to thousands of
tricks  including card tricks, number predictions, or even just quickly checking your
change in a shop.
 Explaining the maths involved as clearly as possible.
Regarding the explanation of maths: I've never been a teacher, and I don't work to any
government imposed curriculum or any KEY STAGE achievement levels. All I try
to do is set out simple instructions as clearly and accurately as possible.
However I've been delighted to receive many messages of
support and thanks from parents and teachers in the UK, the USA and elsewhere, and
that's why this web page was created.
Outlined below is the maths content of each book, so
if you're looking for a new angle to teach or encourage maths, I hope this
will be of help to you!
Many thanks for your interest...
KJARTAN POSKITT

Extracts from a message we received:
My 12 year old son is "gifted" yet also dyspraxic.
He spent his primary school years being ostracised because he liked
reading books, hated football and was a mine of useless and useful
information. All this said, he was absolutely shockingly bad at maths.
I was pretty fed up with his school who had written him off as willful
and not worth pushing for the scholarship exams coming up  they had
decided that because his maths was chronic, he wouldn't pass any of
them.
I started tutoring him in maths at home, but it was like a scene
from the exorcist most of the time
(i.e. my head spinning, not his)  and then
I stumbled on the
Murderous Maths Books. Through them he taught
himself maths and thanks to you, became quite an expert. His
defining moment was when he showed his teacher how to multiply mixed
fractions. This was the sort of school that had favourites  and only
recommended one child for the grammar school. However we put
our son in and he passed, and the other kid didn't.
I just wanted you to know what a
big difference you made to one child's life. So thank you so much.
Ro Saul, Kent, England.

...my 9 year old boy, who groans when I say it is time to do math, is glued to your book this afternoon... Marilyn Just, New Jersey, USA
Further endorsements can be found at the bottom of this page.

THE MATHS CONTENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL BOOKS
The first two books each contain
a variety of little unconnected maths topics to create general interest. Many of the
topics in these first two books are dealt with in much more detail in the further books.

 A rough guide to the signs: +  x / % and powers
 Tessellation: covering surfaces with shapes.
 Roman Numerals, the development of the "10" and the place system.
 Shortcomings of calculators
 A brief explanation of prime numbers
 Time  how the year and day got divided, digital/analogue clocks
 A brief introduction to angles
 Introducing some real Mathematicians
 Magic squares  how to make your own
 Short cuts, rough mental arithmetic
 A card trick with algebra explanation
 Rounding off long numbers
 Symmetry  reflection and rotation

 Domino and Pentomino patterns and puzzles
 The difference between length, area and volume, also the difference
between worlds of 1, 2 and 3 dimensions
 Measuring areas and volumes and basic rectangle/triangle formulas
 Speed, calculating and coverting m.p.h. to metres per sec etc.
 Mobius strips
 Pythagoras, right angled triangles, irrational numbers, pi
 Area and perimeter
 Bisecting angles in geometry
 Triangle numbers
 Simple topology networks
 "Mystery" number squares and how to make them.

The first two books have now been edited together to produce a book suited to younger readers: The BrainBending Basics.
Following the success of the first two books, a full series was planned covering
the subject more comprehensively. The next two books explain
all the basic maths you need to understand any other book in the series.
 


 Introduction to numbers, explanation of odd, even and negative numbers
 Signs  just about every sign in maths is explained fully.
 Place value (including decimal places) and rounding off
 Manipulating equations
 ADDITION: adding several big numbers at once, carrying over.
 SUBTRACTION: subtraction big numbers, working out change in shops.
 Time tables, also how to deal with e.g. 700 x 60.
 MULTIPLICATION: e.g. 12834 x 217 without a calculator.
 LONG DIVISION: leading to remainders, simple decimals and fractions
 Estimating answers to big sums

 Introducing different fractions, converting improper and mixed fractions.
 Multiplying and dividing by vulgar fractions
 Explanation of primes, splitting numbers into prime factors
 Reducing fractions
 Highest Common Factors and Lowest Common Denominators
 Adding and subtracting different fractions
 Egyptian Fractions
 Comparing fractions
 Converting fractions to decimals, decimal place system
 Percentages: increase and decrease
 Averages: calculating means, also modes and medians explained

The Awesome Arithmetricks and The Mean and Vulgar Bits have now been edited together to produce a book suited to younger readers: The Secrets of Sums.
Having established the "basics" the rest of the books each follow a separate theme.
 


 Measuring lines  units and accuracy
 Old measuring systems and the development of metric
 The SI system and powers of ten.
 Shadow sticks and trundle wheels
 Names of different shapes
 Measuring areas and area formulas
 What weight really is
 Angles and how to measure them
 Measuring volume, Archimedes Principle
 Density
 Measuring time and how the modern calendar developed.
 Units to measure other things

This book deals with probability starting with the very basics, but following
the subject well past the confines of the usual school curriculum.
 Calculating chances on anything including tossing coins,
throwing dice, dealing card hands and sharing birthdays
 Tree diagrams
 Mutually Exclusive and Independent chances
 Pascal's Triangle
 Permutations and Combinations
 Sampling

This is the pure geometry book which has no sums!
 Signs in geometric diagrams
 Loci explained
 Constructions: perpendicular bisectors, dropping perpendiculars,
bisecting angles
 Triangles: different types, similar, congruent, equal areas
 Polygons: regular, irregular, angle sizes and construction.
 Tessellations and Penrose Tiles
 Simple origami
 Circles: chord, tangent and angle theorems.
 Regular solids, Euler's formula
 Ellipses, how to construct, eccentricity
 Geometric proof of Pythagoras' Theorem

This book is more of a "feature" book rather than an instruction book. It's packed
with facts on numbers that have strange properites.
 Fibonacci Series and the Golden Ratio
 Properties of Square, Triangle, Cube, Centred Hexagon and Tetrahedral numbers
 The "difference of two squares" explained
 Superstitions arising from numbers
 Prime numbers  history including Mersenne primes
 Tests to see if a number will divide by anything between 2 and 13, also 19.
 Finger multiplication
 Binary and base 8 number systems
 Perfect numbers
 Irrational, transcendental and imaginary numbers explained
 The strange properties of infinity

This book has just about everything you ever need to know about algebra.
 How letters are used for "unknowns"
 Creating and solving simple linear equations
 Brackets, factorising and expanding (or multiplying out)
 Simplifying expressions
 Solving quadratics and the quadratic formula
 "Think of a number" tricks
 Difference of two squares
 Coefficients of (ab)^{n}
 Linear graphs, including coordinates, gradients, y intercept, solving
simple simultaneous equations
 Other nonlinear function graphs including parabolas
 Solving simultaneous equations by substitution or elimination
 The perils of dividing by zero!

Here is everything needed to understand Trigonometry including ratios and geometry
 How scales and ratios work on maps and diagrams (plus other ratio examples)
 How to do accurate constructions using a protractor and compasses
 Explanations of the SIN, COS and TAN ratios in right angled triangles
 How to use a calculator to get trig values (both normal and inverse)
 The sin and cosine formulas for nonrightangled triangles
 Measuring far away distances with triangulation
 Measurements in space (including explanations of parallax angles and parsecs)
 Sin/cos/tan relationships
 Drawing a sin wave, and what they sound like
 Bearings  finding positions at sea and plotting a course

The Perfect Sausage
An indexed reference book containing about 180 formulas covering just about every topic in maths with explanations. Although presented in the usual Murderous Maths style, it will give additional support for anyone taking exams up to the age 16 level (including GCSE). Formulas include:
 All common areas and volumes, and many unusual ones including ellipsoids and toruses.
 Number formulas (e.g. triangle, hexagonal)
 Speed, acceleration, stopping times and distance
 Force, gravity, range of projectiles
 Money  percentages, simple and compound interest
 Day of the Week Algorithm
 Permutations and Combinations
 Many miscellaneous formulas
See the full index

Easy Questions Evil Answers
A wide range of strange and bizarre bits of maths to satisfy the most curious minds!
Presented in a question and answer format, lots of key maths topics are demonstrated in use including:
 Formulas
 Working out square roots by hand
 π
 Pythagoras
 Paradoxes
 Problem solving
 Metric prefixes
 A guide to massive numbers
 An introduction to vectors
To get a better idea of the complete contents please see the list of questions.

Over 100 different challenges, many of which are maths based. Puzzle types include
 mazes
 logic
 coin problems
 number crosswords
 shape cutting/rearranging
 number squares

Everything from basic substitution codes up to the RSA code used for sending credit card details over the internet!
 patterns
 logic and deduction
 prime numbers
 high powers
 MOD function

The first large format fullcolour MM book covers a huge range of topics with the focus on FUN!
 Prime numbers
 Sieve of Eratosthenes
 Pythagoras' Theorem
 Triangle numbers
 Square numbers
 The International Date Line
 Geometry (The three problems of antiquity)
 Geometric constructions
 Topology
 Complex Mobius strips
 Curves (including the conic sections and the cycloid)

 Golomb Rulers
 4 dimensional 0's and X's (or "Tic Tac Toe")
 The Golden Ratio
 Fibonacci series
 Equiangular Spirals
 Musical ratios
 Theorems (including Ham Sandwich Theorem and Fixed Point Theorem)
 Probability (cards, dice and other games)
 Pascal's Triangle
 Sierpinski Triangle
 Chess board curiosities
 Light years
 The size and distances of the moon and the planets
 How planets orbit
 The sizes of stars and the shape of the galaxy



Teaching math to young homeschool students can be fun when applied to the activities of daily home life. Renovations and
upgrades to a residence
offer multiple opportunities to teach practical money and measuring skills. Students will be able to tackle questions like
what is the cost
of a home elevator? Or how much weight can a
home elevator
hold?
USEFUL LINKS:
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Read the Times Educational Supplement
and Primary Times reviews of
"Diabolical Brainbenders"

The Complete Book Index
The Online Bookshop
The Full Site Contents at a Glance
Murderous Maths Main Index Page
My boys dropped everything and are ravenously devouring the words written on the pages  my 9 year old boy, who groans when I say it is time to do math, is glued to your book this afternoon.
If I could get them to put the books down I know they would say, "Thanks for making learning so much fun!" Or, more likely, "Dude, your books are funny." Either way it means the same thing!
Marilyn Just, New Jersey, USA

I am a homeschooling mother of 5 in Wahoo,Nebraska.
I heard about Murderous Maths from my MathUSee group.
This is the math curriculum I use.
I am always looking for good, fun math to supplement my children's learning.
Thanks, Robin Schneider

We're expat brits in California (San Jose) and
we heard about MM from our relatives in the UK.
We bought a couple of the books and found that
they were read several times by our children.
They enjoy the jokes and even pick up a bit on the maths.
We haven't found anything similar in the US  a
combination of humour and real maths.
Perhaps its because a lot of maths in the US is merely
rote learning, and performing hundreds of boring
calculations at speed. Anyway, whatever it is,
MM seems to fill a need with our family.
Thanks for the great books.
Toby Ferguson

We're a British family living in USA with 2 children  and we find the maths
teaching and the maths text books here REALLY boring  so we have enjoyed
Murderous Maths books which we found on a trip back to UK recently.
We are
now trying to encourage our maths teachers at school to break out of the
tedium and have some fun with maths!
The Smith family, Alabama

I'm a math & science teacher in secondary schools in the
neighbourhood of Rome and my wife is a researcher at the
National Institute of Health.
We both found your books interesting , exhilarant , rich
in tips and very appropriate to link pupils to the
usually very boring and tiring activitities connected with maths.
Best regards, Enrico & Milena Marchiori

