Q: A trader had gold coins but did not tell anyone how many she had. If the coins are divided into two different sized groups, then 32 times the difference between the two numbers is equal to the difference between the squares of the two numbers. How many gold coins did she have?

A: The merchant has 32 gold coins.

It is easy to check this… Let’s divide the 32 coins into two unequal numbers, say, 27 and 5. Then, 32 (27 – 5) = (27 x 27) – (5 x 5).

We can also check this by dividing the 32 coins into 30 and 2.

Then, 32(30-2) = (30 x 30) – (2 x 2).

This will work for any two numbers that add to 32. If we call the two numbers x and y:

32 (x – y) = x^2 – y^2

So x + y = 32 and therefore y = 32 – x

Then we can rewrite the above as:

32(x – (32 – x)) = x^2 – (32 – x)^2

32(x – 32 + x) = x^2 – (1024 – 64 x + x^2)

32(2x – 32) = x^2 – 1024 + 64x – x^2 (the x^2s cancel)

64x – 1024 = 64x – 1024 🙂