500 ants are randomly put on a 1-foot string (independent uniform distribution for each ant between 0 and 1). Each ant randomly moves toward on end of the string (equal probability to the left or the right) at constant speed of 1 foot/minute until it falls of a t one end of the string. Also assume that the size of the ant is infinitely small. When two ants collide head-on, they both immediately change directions and keep on moving at 1 foot/min. What is the expected time for all ants to fall off the string?
I realize this question has been asked here. However, I am trying to understand the answer that is given for this question in my book:
It says the ants labels are randomly assigned and hence the labels of the ants can be changed with no difference to the result. So when the ants collide, they effectively continue in the same direction. This makes sense.
However, I am unclear about this part: If an ant is put on the x-th foot, the expected value for it to fall off is just x min. If it goes in the other direction, simply set it to 1-x. So, the original problem just becomes what is the expected value of the maximum of 500 IID random variables with a Uniform Distribution between 0 and 1. I don't understand how the difference in direction that it goes in is being accounted for.