# Which number remains alive?

There are $100$ people standing in a circle numbered from $1$ to $100$. The first person is having a sword and kills the the person standing next to him clockwise i.e $1$ kills $2$ and so on. Which is the last number to remain alive? Also if $1$ kills both the person standing next to him. Which is the last number standing? Can both of them be generalized?

• If $1$ kills $2$, how can $2$ kill $3$?? $2$ is dead! Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:16
• i think it is spiritual question :D :D :D Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:18
• 3 kills 4, 5 kills 6...goes on till one orperson is left Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:18
• but main question is where is police :D Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:19
• The barbaric Josephus problem. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:41

The first case is similar to Josephus Problem and in general situation, we can use the following MATLAB code to get the remaining number:

## First Case:

function RemainNum = JosephusProblem(n,m)
A = 1:n;
A = A';
for k = 1:n-1
A = circshift(A,length(A)-mod(m+1,length(A)) + 1);
A = A(1:(end-1));
RemainNum = A;


where $n$ is the total number of person in this circle and from the person #1, people count number one by one from 1 to $m$ circularly and the person who tells the number $m$ gets killed and this process doesn't end until there is only one person left, then the function returns this lucky guy by $\text{RemainNum}$. So in this case, $m=2$. People count like $1,2,1,2,...$ and persons who count 2 get killed.

## Second Case:

Let $f(n)$ be the lucky number in this case, then I guess that $$f(n) = \begin{cases} 1, &\text{if n=1}\\ n-1, & \text{if n is even} \\ n-2, & \text{if n is odd} \\ \end{cases}$$ Since every time at most 2 persons are killed and 1 person is killed only when there are only 2 person left, so when $n$ is even, finally there will be only 2 persons left after $\frac{n-2}{2}$ times killing and person $n-1$ gets the sword, so $f(n) = n-1$ in this case. When $n$ is odd, after $\frac{n-3}{2}$ times killing, there will be 3 person left, and person $n-2$ gets the sword and then kills the other two, so $f(n)= n-2$ in this case.

• MathJax wasn't made for code. In Markdown, we use backticks (code) for inline code snippets, and four spaces (<newline> code) for "separate" code. See my edit. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 13:59
• Thanks a lot!@Giulio Muscarello Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:00
• Oh yeah...Josephus problem. I remember the implementation in C using Linked List.
– MonK
Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:28
• Yes, we can use linked list in C and we can also use only array to implement it. In MATLAB, the implementation can be very simple. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:35
• matlab code was cool :) Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 5:14

Write it in binary and shift (with cyclic rotation) one bit left - ;-) The closed formula is: $$f(n) = 2 \cdot ( n - 2^{\lfloor log_2n \rfloor}) + 1$$

More details could be found in Concrete Mathematics by Donald Knuth, chapter 1.3.

• This needs to me marked as the correct answer.
– will
Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 17:09

First case : If 1 kills 2, then 2 can not kill 3 because he is dead. So we are down to every odd number killing the even numbered person. So, Updating after @coffeemath's comment

After 1st round: $$1,3,5,7,9\cdots99$$ 2nd round:$$1,5,9,13\cdots97$$ 3rd round:$$1,9,17,25\cdots97$$ 4th round:$$9,25,41,57,73,89$$ 5th round:$$9,41,73$$ 6th round:$$9,73$$

And 73 kills 9 ultimately. :)

To calculate I used an excel sheet and started to mark people alive after 1st round,2nd round and so on.

Second Case: 100 is standing next to 1, because they are standing in circle. So, 1 kills 2 and 100 (both even). 3 kills both 1 and 4, cos 1 is alive and next to 3 now and this goes on. So, the sequence

\begin{align}\\ 1-100,2\\3-1,4\\5-3,6\\7-5,8\\9-7,10\\...\\...\\99-97 \end{align}

There is no one to kill 99. So 99 is alive. :)

• Hey! Thanks, but can we generalize it? Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 10:07
• No, you can't, unfortunately. But I think you can definately write a program for both the cases.
– MonK
Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 10:19
• 99 has just killed 100, so now the sword passes to 1. Thus 1 stays alive after the first "round", and then 3,7 etc get killed next. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 10:34
• yes, you are right, updating. thanks
– MonK
Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 10:45
• The latter one does appear to generalize, at least for even numbers of people. 1 will always kill 2 and n, and everyone will kill the person behind them, leaving no one to kill n-1. For odd n, it appears to be n-2 who survives. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 17:51

This is for the first case, where killing proceeds only clockwise. Let $f(n)$ be the position of the last person alive. Then we can show two recursive statements to determine $f(n)$ (given the initial $f(1)=1$): $$f(2n)=2f(n)-1, \\ f(2n+1)=2f(n)+1.$$ For the $f(2n)$ case, the remaining numbers after one round are $2\cdot 1-1,\cdots 2n-1.$ (and the $1$ is alive on the next round) This is a list of $n$ numbers $2k-1,$ with $1 \le k \le n$ So if we know the value of $f(n)$ we can just adjust it to where it is on this list, and get $2f(n)-1$ for $f(2n).$

For the $f(2n+1)$ case, one round again kills the even indexed values, but the last position $2n+1$ now holds the sword and will then kill $1$, so that we are left with the numbers of the list $2\cdot 1+1, \cdots, 2n+1$ (with the $3$ alive) which is again a list of $n$ numbers, so that similarly to the above if we know $f(n)$ we can adjust it to where it is on this list to get $2f(n)+1$ for the value of $f(2n+1).$

Applying these recursions to $f(100)$ we have $$f(100)=2f(50)-1,\\ f(50)=2f(25)-1,\\ f(25)=2f(12)+1,\\ f(12)=2f(6)-1,\\ f(6)=2f(3)-1,\\ f(3)=2f(1)+1.$$ Then plugging in $f(1)=1$ and working upward gives $f(100)=73$ (as in MonK's answer).

These recursions would give $f(n)$ for any $n$ but aren't in a closed form, which would be nicer.

Added: By looking at $n$ in base 2 and using the above recursions, one can get the following "almost" closed form. If $2^k \le n < 2^{k+1}$ then $$f(n)=2(n-2^k)+1.$$ In particular $f(n)$ must be odd in all cases, something unexpected (to me). This form is another version of the one cited by fex in his answer above, from Knuth.

• Actually that $f(n)$ is odd is clear since in round one all the evens get killed, for any $n.$ Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 21:11

Here's my solution, in C. The answer is 73.

#include <stdio.h>
#define N 100
void main(){
int i=0, j; //i has the sword, j gets killed.
int a[N]={0}; //0=not killed
while(1){
if(i != N-1) j = i + 1;
else j = 0;
while(a[j])
if((j + 1) == N) j = 0; //loop back to 0
else j++; //skip over the killed people
if(i==j){ //if i is the only one left, stop
printf("\n\n\n%d is left!", i+1);
return;
}
a[j] = 1; //kill j
printf(" %d kills %d.", i+1, j+1);
if(j != N-1) i = j + 1;
else i=0;
while(a[i])
if((i + 1) == N) i = 0;
else i++;
}
}


ok because $1$ kill $2$ ,then $3$ kill $4$,that means that we have odd numbers after one round

1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
17
19
21
23
25
27
29
31
33
35
37
39
41
43
45
47
49
51
53
55
57
59
61
63
65
67
69
71
73
75
77
79
81
83
85
87
89
91
93
95
97
99


now we are continuing again or ?after another round we have these numbers

1

5

9

13

17

21

25

29

33

37

41

45

49

53

57

61

65

69

73

77

81

85

89

93

97


final result is 73

• Yes! It continues till 1 person is left. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:33
• next stage 1 kills 3,5 kills 7,7 kills 9 and so on right Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:34
• 99 kills 100 now the sword is with 1, and now 3, 7, 11...are dead and it continues. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:37
• en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josephus_problem please look on this problem Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:45
• Too good, this is what I wanted. Thank you so much...:) Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 10:07

Second case if we have m guys at the table:

survivor = m-($m\pmod2$)-1

$1->m,2$

(for 0$<$n$<$(m-2)/2)

$2*n+1$$->$$2*n-1$,$2*n+2$

then the last guy kill someone is $(m-1)->(m-3)$ or $(m-2)->(m-1),(m-4)$ and from there because of its value depends on modulo 2, $survivor = m-($$m\pmod2$$)-1$.

First case if we have m guys at the table:

$n=floor(\log_{2}m)$

$survivor = 2*(m-2^n)+1$

if length is even

$a->a+k,a+2*k->a+3*k,..,a+(n-1)*k->a+n*k$

$a,a+2*k,a+4*k,..,a+(n-1)*k$

if length is odd

$a->a+k,a+2*k->a+3*k,..,a+(n-2)*k->a+(n-1)*k,a+n*k->a$

$a+2*k,a+4*k,a+6*k,..,a+n*k$

If we always make length half and survivor changes only $\pmod2$ is equal to 1 then I thought if we thought that number as a binary then the digits which are zero is make survivor less then the m is $m-binaryInverse(m)$ is equal to survivor then it is same with $survivor = 2*(m-2^n)+1$. Sorry for my english but i try to make it better.

– MonK
Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 9:36
• Please can you explain how you arrived? Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 9:40

Last Survival is 61 as shown in below matrix

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Final Round

1 1 1 5 13 29 61
2 3 5 13 29 61
3 5 9 21 45 93
4 7 13 29 61
5 9 17 37 77
6 11 21 45 93
7 13 25 53
8 15 29 61
9 17 33 69
10 19 37 77
11 21 41 85
12 23 45 93
13 25 49
14 27 53
15 29 57
16 31 61
17 33 65
18 35 69
19 37 73
20 39 77
21 41 81
22 43 85
23 45 89
24 47 93
25 49 97
26 51
27 53
28 55
29 57
30 59
31 61
32 63
33 65
34 67
35 69
36 71
37 73
38 75
39 77
40 79
41 81
42 83
43 85
44 87
45 89
46 91
47 93
48 95
49 97
50 99
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100

$${}$$

Here is the solution in Python : Not an elegant mathematical one ; but since I did not know the mathematically

from itertools import cycle
NUMBER = 100
people = list(range(1, NUMBER + 1))
print  "Runing"

print people
people_list = cycle(people)

while len(people) != 1:
tolive = next(people_list)
todel = next(people_list)

else:
print sorted(people)
people_list = cycle(sorted(people))

print people
print "over"


For 100 it is 73

this can be solved using mathematics of induction.

winner=(total_people - (2^i - 1 - total_people))

here i can be calculated using this equation:

2^i <= total_people < 2^(i+1)

Here's the c++ implementation:

#include<iostream>
#include<cstdio>
#include<math.h>

using namespace std;

int main(void)
{
int i,total_people;

while(true){
cin>>total_people;
i=0;
while(pow(2,i)<=total_people){
i++;
}
i--;
int winner=(total_people-(pow(2,i+1)-1-total_people));
cout<<winner;

}

}