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If I'm told that a box's height is 10 and that the thickness is 5, should I

  1. Assume that the box's real height is 15.
  2. Assume that the box's content height is actually 5, and due to the thickness it is said that the total box height is 10

Edit: Think of it as a cardboard box. The cardboard material used can have certain thickness. And the thicker, the "bigger" the box seems to be.

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One would have to see the exact wording of the problem to make a reasonable guess. My inclination would be to think that the (external) height is $10$, so $(2)$. Thick box! – André Nicolas Sep 4 '12 at 0:54
Is it possible that the problem is poorly worded and the "thickness" was intended to refer to one of the other two dimensions of the box ( besides height)? – Robert Miller Sep 4 '12 at 0:59
I did a small edit there. Like cardboard boxes. The cardboard material has thickness, and the thicker, the "bigger" a box seems. Kinda. Damn, it is hard to explain. – Zol Tun Kul Sep 4 '12 at 1:08
Is this coming from a mathematical problem or from someone telling you about an actual box in real life? If the former, it is ambiguous without further context. If the latter, you should just ask them what they mean. I don't think you should "assume" in either case. – Rahul Sep 4 '12 at 1:24
up vote 2 down vote accepted

My first intuition was that "thickness" meant "width" - but if you are confident that thickness is truly the thickness of the material: Thickness should certainly not affect overall box height. A "box" is defined by the outer dimensions. Real boxes have to be placed into carriers, and those carriers need to be spec'd based on the dimensions of the object inside them. This is the box's dimensions.

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