# Questions tagged [puzzle]

This tag is meant for questions about the mathematical principles behind games, riddles, or their possible solutions. If the answer is known to you please do not use this tag to "riddle" other users, but rather to ask about the correctness of a possible solution or ways to extend and improve an existing solution.

2,302 questions
46k views

### One question to know if the number is 1, 2 or 3

I've recently heard a riddle, which looks quite simple, but I can't solve it. A girl thinks of a number which is 1, 2, or 3, and a boy then gets to ask just one question about the number. The girl ...
9k views

5k views

### Cutting sticks puzzle

This was asked on sci.math ages ago, and never got a satisfactory answer. Given a number of sticks of integral length $\ge n$ whose lengths add to $n(n+1)/2$. Can these always be broken (by ...
6k views

Okay, so this question was bound to come up sooner or later- the hope was to ask it well before someone asked it badly... We all love a good puzzle To a certain extent, any piece of mathematics is a ...
18k views

### 100 blue-eyed islanders puzzle: 3 questions

I read the Blue Eyes puzzle here, and the solution which I find quite interesting. My questions: What is the quantified piece of information that the Guru provides that each person did not already ...
9k views

### 100 Soldiers riddle

One of my friends found this riddle. There are 100 soldiers. 85 lose a left leg, 80 lose a right leg, 75 lose a left arm, 70 lose a right arm. What is the minimum number of soldiers losing all ...
24k views

### Predicting Real Numbers

Here is an astounding riddle that at first seems impossible to solve. I'm certain the axiom of choice is required in any solution, and I have an outline of one possible solution, but would like to ...
11k views

### Help me solve my father's riddle and get my book back

My father is a mathteacher and as such he regards asking tricky questions and playing mathematical pranks on me once in a while as part of his parental duty. So today before leaving home he sneaked ...
20k views

### Logic problem: Identifying poisoned wines out of a sample, minimizing test subjects with constraints

I just got out from my Math and Logic class with my friend. During the lecture, a well-known math/logic puzzle was presented: The King has $1000$ wines, $1$ of which is poisoned. He needs to ...
8k views

### What would have been our number system if humans had more than 10 fingers? Try to solve this puzzle.

Try to solve this puzzle: The first expedition to Mars found only the ruins of a civilization. From the artifacts and pictures, the explorers deduced that the creatures who produced this ...
83k views

### Dividing 100% by 3 without any left

In mathematics, as far as I know, you can't divide 100% by 3 without having 0,1...% left. Imagine an apple which was cloned two times, so the other 2 are completely equal in 'quality'. The totality ...
6k views

### What is $x^y$? How to understand it?

$x+y=z$ I have a pen. He has a pen. Total is two pen. This is plus. $x-y=z$ I had two pens. A pen was lost. So, I have a pen. Total remaining is one. This is minus. $x\cdot y=z$ I have two pens. ...
7k views

The following puzzle being very much recreational for me, I couldn't resist myself from sharing it with my fellow MSE user friends. Let's have a look at it. You are the most eligible bachelorette ...
7k views

### Any smart ideas on finding the area of this shaded region?

Don't let the simplicity of this diagram fool you. I have been wondering about this for quite some time, but I can't think of an easy/smart way of finding it. Any ideas? For reference, the Area is: ...
3k views

### A discrete math riddle

Here's a riddle that I've been struggling with for a while: Let $A$ be a list of $n$ integers between 1 and $k$. Let $B$ be a list of $k$ integers between 1 and $n$. Prove that there's a non-empty ...
16k views

60k views

### How many triangles

I saw this question today, it asks how many triangles are in this picture. I don't know how to solve this (without counting directly), though I guess it has something to do with some recurrence. How ...
941 views

### Guessing a subset of $\{1,…,N\}$

I pick a random subset $S$ of $\{1,\ldots,N\}$, and you have to guess what it is. After each guess $G$, I tell you the number of elements in $G \cap S$. How many guesses do you need?
3k views

### Proving a jigsaw is possible

This is an offshoot of this question. Suppose we have jigsaw puzzle pieces which are basically squares but where each side can be either straight, concave or convex. An example of three such pieces ...
4k views

### Fun Geometric Series Puzzle

I recently was reminded of a puzzle I solved in college and thought I'd give it a shot again. However, being distanced from college math, I am having a harder time remembering how I arrived at the ...
3k views

### A variant of the Monty Hall problem

Everybody knows the famous Monty Hall problem; way too much ink has been spilled over it already. Let's take it as a given and consider the following variant of the problem that I thought up this ...
4k views

### Drinking habits riddle: the village is $90$%$+80$%$+70$%$+60$%$= 300$ % saturated with liquids

In a small village $90\%$ of the people drink Tea, $80\%$ Coffee, $70\%$ Whiskey and $60\%$ Gin. Nobody drinks all four beverages. What percentage of people of this village drinks alcohol? I got this ...
76k views

### Maximum board position in 2048 game

A game called 2048 is making rounds on social media. I am trying to determine the maximum score attainable for this game. Let's assume WLOG that only 2s are returned (if 4s are possible the max score ...
2k views

### Can this ant find its way back to the nest?

So the puzzle is like this: An ant is out from its nest searching for food. It travels in a straight line from its nest. After this ant gets 40 ft away from the nest, suddenly a rain starts to pour ...
8k views

### Chance of getting a date

A girl you like tells you that there's a $1$% chance she'll go out on a date with you. What is the expected number of times you have to ask her out before you get a date? (Not a homework problem - I ...
948 views

4k views

### how to find the balls?

You have 15 balls, 2 of them are radioactive. You have to run 7 tests (no more) on the balls which will sort out the 2 radioactive ones guarenteed every time. You can test them in groups, or even one ...
1k views

### Mosquito in the Room (Puzzle)

Pondering about a very real mosquito in my room I came up with this puzzle: You are in a room of dimensions $10$ m $\times$ $10$ m $\times$ $3$ m. There is also a (point-shaped) mosquito in the ...
6k views

### Which simple puzzles have fooled professional mathematicians?

Although I'm not a professional mathematician by training, I felt I should have easily been able to answer straight away the following puzzle: Three men go to a shop to buy a TV and the only one ...