Tag Archives: Pascal’s Triangle



One of the challenges when researching in an engineering field is to determine what patterns your data may present you with.  This can be an unfamiliar skill for those of us that have come from industry as we’re used to dealing with certainty when designing buildings, not uncertainty.  One of things I’ve been messing about with lately is patterns and series of numbers as I’ve been learning Mathematica, using Roozbeh Hazrat’s book to help.

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This has let me calculate the palindromic prime numbers less than 10,000 and other long winded sums in a single line of code.  It has had me thinking about other series of numbers such as the Fibonacci series which is present in nature and Pascal’s triangle… (below)  I’ve been seeking these types of patterns and puzzles out to try and sharpen my powers of observation and help with rebuilding my maths skills which have atrophied over the years.

\[\begin{array}{c} {\rm{1}}\\ {\rm{1\, 1}}\\ {\rm{1\, 2\, 1}}\\ {\rm{1\, 3\, 3\, 1}}\\ {\rm{1\, 4\, 6\, 4\, 1}} \end{array}\]

Pascal’s triangle is quite a simple pattern to determine, you simply work through the line above and it helps you create the next line below in the series.  Take the first number, it’s always 1, then add the first two numbers together on the line above to get your next number, rinse repeat to see what you get…

\[\begin{array}{c} {\rm{1}}\\ {\rm{1 1}}\\ {\rm{1 }}\underbrace {{\rm{(1 + 1)}}}_2{\rm{ 1}} \end{array}\]

In the example above when you add together the two numbers on the second row, you get the number 2…. I’ve highlighted this with a bracket on the example above to illustrate how you get the number 2 on the third line…  try working through this process to see if you can get the pattern above to repeat and see if you can follow the logic.

Now this is all fine and well, but Pascal’s triangle is well known and it isn’t going to win you a bet down the pub… the Aha! moment that goes with puzzles is the key to a successful puzzle (Badger, Sangwin, Ventura-Medina, & Thomas, 2012)  the simpler the explanation, the more readily the solution will be accepted (Michalewicz & Michalewicz, 2008).

So following the pattern theme of this post, let’s see what we can make of the following pattern and see if it can help sharpen up the old grey stuff… and if you crack the puzzle, maybe you can try it down your local and see if it earns you a free pint…

\[\begin{array}{c} 1\\ 1{\rm{ 1}}\\ {\rm{2 1}}\\ {\rm{1 2 1 1}}\\ {\rm{1 1 1 2 2 1}} \end{array}\]

What is the next line for this pyramid?  If you’re struggling and would like a hint, then try saying the series aloud.

The solution is 3 1 2 2 1 1 because there are THREE ONES, TWO TWOs, and ONE ONE on the line above…

If you’re struggling to solve this puzzle, then you can highlight the text from this line to the line above to reveal the answer.


Badger, M., Sangwin, C. J., Ventura-Medina, E., & Thomas, C. R. (2012). A guide to puzzle-based learning in STEM subjects. Birmingham: University of Birmingham.

Michalewicz, Z., & Michalewicz, M. (2008). Puzzle-based learning: An introduction to critical thinking, mathematics, and problem solving. Melbourne: Hybrid Publishers.