Math Fun Facts!
hosted by the Harvey Mudd College Math Department created, authored and ©1999-2010 by Francis Su
Subscribe to our RSS feed   or follow us on Twitter.
Get a random Fun Fact!
No subject limitations
Search only in selected subjects
    Calculus or Analysis
    Number Theory
    Other subjects
  Select Difficulty  
Enter keywords 

  The Math Fun Facts App!
  List All : List Recent : List Popular
  About Math Fun Facts / How to Use
  Contributors / Fun Facts Home
© 1999-2010 by Francis Edward Su
All rights reserved.

From the Fun Fact files, here is a Fun Fact at the Easy level:

Magic 1089

Here's a cool mathematical magic trick. Write down a three-digit number whose digits are decreasing. Then reverse the digits to create a new number, and subtract this number from the original number. With the resulting number, add it to the reverse of itself. The number you will get is 1089!

For example, if you start with 532 (three digits, decreasing order), then the reverse is 235. Subtract 532-235 to get 297. Now add 297 and its reverse 792, and you will get 1089!

Presentation Suggestions:
You might ask your students to see if they can explain this magic trick using a little algebra.

The Math Behind the Fact:
If we let a, b, c denote the three digits of the original number, then the three-digit number is 100a+10b+c. The reverse is 100c+10b+a. Subtract: (100a+10b+c)-(100c+10b+a) to get 99(a-c). Since the digits were decreasing, (a-c) is at least 2 and no greater than 9, so the result must be one of 198, 297, 396, 495, 594, 693, 792, or 891. When you add any one of those numbers to the reverse of itself, you get 1089!

See the reference for more mathematical magic tricks.

How to Cite this Page:
Su, Francis E., et al. "Magic 1089." Math Fun Facts. <>.

Keywords:    math tricks
Subjects:    algebra, other
Level:    Easy
Fun Fact suggested by:   Francis Su
Suggestions? Use this form.
Click to rate this Fun Fact...
    *   Awesome! I totally dig it!
    *   Fun enough to tell a friend!
    *   Mildly interesting
    *   Not really noteworthy
and see the most popular Facts!
New: get the MathFeed iPhone App!

Brings you news and views on math:
showcasing its power, beauty, and humanity

Want another Math Fun Fact?

For more fun, tour the Mathematics Department at Harvey Mudd College!