#39: The Hog’s Back Mystery (1933) by Freeman Wills Crofts

Hog's BackThere is a branch of Mathematics known as combinatorics which studies the interactions of countably finite discrete sets.  Or, in English, it’s the formal study of combining things in all the possible ways they can be combined.  It’s a little bit like doing a jigsaw by picking up one piece and then going through the box to try every other piece to find one that fits with that piece, and then going through again to find another piece that fits with those two…and so on until you’ve finished the picture.  Approximately a third of the thesis I wrote in my final year of university was based in a combinatorial approach to solving a particular problem (I shall spare you the details), and the formalisation of what sounds like an exceptionally dull way to go about something took on for me a particular beauty in the context of all the mathematics I has studied to that point.

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