Recreational Math

Math Puzzles

What is a Tangram?

Some puzzle forms go back thousands of years, such as the Tangram, which is also known as a dissection puzzle. The Tangram is of Chinese origin—literally called the Seven-Board of Cunning—but the word itself is of English origin, and is built from the words “tang” (thought to be a synonym for “Chinese” in the Cantonese dialect) and “gram.” It is thought that the Pythagorean theorem was discovered in Asia before Pythagoras’s time with the help of Tangram pieces (for more about the Pythagorean theorem, see “Geometry and Trigonometry”).

The Tangram consists of a square divided into seven pieces called Tans, all of which must be arranged to match particular designs, usually a square. The seven pieces include five triangles of various sizes, one square, and one parallelogram. All the shapes must be used in the final form and none can overlap.


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