Take the 2-minute tour ×
MathOverflow is a question and answer site for professional mathematicians. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Hello, I would want all book tips you could think of regarding Problem solving and books in general, in elementary mathematics, with a certain flavour for "advanced problem solving". An example would be the books from The art of problem solving, Engels book and Paul Zeits book. Books on certain topics, say geometry is also appreciated!

share|improve this question
This should be community wiki, because it's looking for a sorted list. –  Charles Siegel Dec 30 '09 at 16:01
I've wikified it. Please make such questions CW in the future. –  Anton Geraschenko Dec 30 '09 at 19:07

17 Answers 17

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Polya's "How to Solve It" is a good one. When prepping for the Putnam, I used "Problem Solving Through Problems" by Larson, also.

share|improve this answer

I enjoyed The USSR Olympiad Problem Book: Selected Problems and Theorems of Elementary Mathematics by Shklarsky, Chentzov and Yaglom.

share|improve this answer
A truly great book! –  Péter Komjáth Jun 28 '10 at 15:33

For a slightly annotated list of some books on problem-solving, see http://math.mit.edu/~rstan/refs.pdf.

share|improve this answer
The link seems to be broken. –  José Figueroa-O'Farrill Dec 31 '09 at 6:07
@Richard Stanley: The link doesn't seem to work. Could you please rectify your link. –  S.C. Aug 5 '11 at 17:52
Broken link has been fixed. –  Richard Stanley Jun 24 '12 at 12:22

Gelca and Andreescu have at least one book on the subject. See also the links to Math Circles and our own (University of South Alabama) list of suggested books.

share|improve this answer

Have you looked at the problems section in the Mathematical Reflections? It's a free online journal edited by Titu Andreescu. They publish six times a year and their problems tend to reflect current olympiad trends.

Also, The Art of Problem Solving and Mathlinks.ro are message boards where olympiad contestants publish solutions from almost every contest in the world. Art of Problem Solving also publishes special textbooks geared towards olympiad students such as this one on Precalculus.

share|improve this answer

Titu Andreescu and Gabriel Dospinescu's Problems from the Book is new but quite nice. There are lots of beautiful examples in it proving a great deal of nontrivial results by what are essentially elementary methods.

share|improve this answer

I've read and enjoyed Putnam and Beyond. It covers more topics from algebra and analysis than I think are typically included in these books. Problems are selected from all sorts of competitions throughout the world including the IMO, various national selection tests for the IMO, and of course the Putnam itself.

share|improve this answer

Knuth's Concrete Mathematics is not only a fun place to learn great combinatorics; it also contains lots of amazing problems.

share|improve this answer

"Number Theory: structures, examples and problems", by Titu Andreescu and Dorin Andrica, contains many problems taken from the IMOs.

share|improve this answer

High school level: Hungarian Problem Book I, II, III, IV

University level: Contests in Higher Mathematics: Miklos Schweitzer Competitions, 1962-1991

share|improve this answer

There is a book called 50 National Mathematical Olympiads in Slovenia published in English in 2006 by the Society of Mathematicians, Physicists and Astronomers of Slovenia at the occasion of the 47th IMO that took place in Slovenia. It contains all problems and solutions.

share|improve this answer

These are some of the books / links which I would recommend:

share|improve this answer

My favorite olympiad books were

"Winning Solutions" by Edward Lozansky and Cecil Rousseau

"Mathematical Miniatures" by Svetoslav Savchev and Titu Andreescu

"Geometry Unbound" by Kiran Kedlaya [online notes]

"Geometry Revisited" H. S. M. Coxeter and Samuel L. Greitzer

Notes by Po-Shen Loh http://www.math.cmu.edu/~ploh/olympiad.shtml

share|improve this answer

There are a lot of books my the american mathematical society. But I think the best book is Mathematical Olympiad in China by Bin Xiong. Any advanced geometry book will also help you because geometry is an area which really improves with practice.

share|improve this answer

I prepared my Mathematical Olympiad with "The Mathematical Olympiad Handbook" by A. Gardiner.

share|improve this answer

Hardy and Williams have "The Red Book of Mathematical Problems" and "The Green Book of Mathematical Problems", with some good analysis, series, conbinatorics, and group theory.

de Souza and Silva have the more advanced "Berkeley Problems in Mathematics".

And finally, another one I leaned on in studying for the Putnam was Dixon's "Problems in Group Theory".

Although I do really like Polya and other's books on problem solving, I always found that I got more from them the more I actually worked through real problems. Others have mentioned actual problem books from the Olympiads and Putnam, which are of course great resources here as well.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.