Archive for mathematical puzzle

Le Monde puzzle [#1049]

Posted in Books, Kids, R with tags , , , on April 18, 2018 by xi'an

An algorithmic Le Monde mathematical puzzle with a direct

Alice and Bob play a game by picking alternatively one of the remaining digits between 1 and 10 and putting it in either one of two available stacks, 1 or 2. Their respective gains are the products of the piles (1 for Alice and 2 for Bob).

The problem is manageable by a recursive function

 if ((min(remz[1,])>0)||(min(remz[2,])>0)){#finale
   for (i in (1:10)[!(1:10)%in%remz]){
   for (i in (1:10)[!(1:10)%in%remz]){

that shows the optimal gain for Alice is 3360=2x5x6x7x 8, versus Bob getting 1080=1x3x4x9x10. The moves ensuring the gain are 2-10-…

a [Gregorian] calendar riddle

Posted in R with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2018 by xi'an

A simple riddle express this week on The Riddler, about finding the years between 2001 and 2099 with the most cases when day x month = year [all entries with two digits]. For instance, this works for 1 January, 2001 since 01=01 x 01. The only difficulty in writing an R code for this question is to figure out the number of days in a given month of a given year (in order to include leap years).

The solution was however quickly found on Stack Overflow and the resulting code is

#safer beta quantile
numOD <- function(date) {
    m <- format(date, format="%m")
    while (format(date, format="%m") == m) date <- date + 1
    return(as.integer(format(date - 1, format="%d")))
for (i in 2001:2099)
for (j in 2:11)

for (i in 1:99){
for (j in 1:12)
  if ((i==(i%/%j)*j)&((i%/%j)<=dayz[j,i])) 

The best year in this respect being 2024, with 7 occurrences of the year being the product of a month and a day…

Le Monde puzzle [#1048]

Posted in Books, Kids, R with tags , , , , , on April 1, 2018 by xi'an

An arithmetic Le Monde mathematical puzzle:

A magical integer m is such that the remainder of the division of any prime number p by m is either a prime number or 1. What is the unique magical integer between 25 and 100? And is there any less than 25?

The question is dead easy to code

for (y in 25:10000)
  if (min((primz[primz>y]%%y)%in%primz)==1) print(y)

and return m=30 as the only solution. Bon sang but of course!, since 30=2x3x5… (Actually, the result follows by dividing the quotient of the division of a prime number by 2 by 3 and then the resulting quotient by 5: all possible cases produce a remainder that is a prime number.) For the second question, the same code returns 2,3,4,6,8,12,18,24 as further solutions. There is no solution beyond 30.

Le Monde puzzle [#1045]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , on March 19, 2018 by xi'an

An arithmetic Le Monde mathematical puzzle of limited proportions (also found on Stack Exchange):

  1. If x,y,z are distinct positive integers such that x+y+z=19 and xyz=p, what is the value of p that has several ordered antecedents?
  2.  If the sum is now x+y+z=22, is there a value of p=xyz for which there are several ordered antecedents?
  3. If the sum is now larger than 100, is there a value of p with this property?

The first question is dead easy to code

for (y in 1:5) #y<z<x
for (z in (y+1):trunc((18-y)/2))
 if (19-y-z>z) entz=c(entz,y*z*(19-y-z))

and return p=144 as the only solution (with ordered antecedents 2 8 9 and 3 4 12). The second question shows no such case. And the last one requires more than brute force exploration! Or the direct argument that a multiple by κ of a non-unique triplet produces a sum multiplied by κ and a product multiplied by κ³. Hence leads to another non-unique triplet with an arbitrary large sum.

Le Monde puzzle [#1044]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , on March 12, 2018 by xi'an

A dynamic programming Le Monde mathematical puzzle:

Bob and Alice are playing a game where Alice fills a one-litre bottle from a water fountain, and empties it between four buckets. Bob then empties two of the four buckets. Alice then fills again her bottle and empties it again in the buckets. Alice wins if she manages to fill one bucket after a finite number of steps. What is the maximum capacity of a bucket for Alice to find a winning strategy?

The question sounded too complex to solve by an R code so I somewhat simplified it by deciding that Alice could not allocate any portion of the litre to a bucket but instead only 0,¼,⅓,½,⅔,¾,1. And then looked at a finite horizon to see how much she could fill a bucket when Bob was trying to minimise this amount: a crude R code just took too long for an horizon of 6 steps and hence I tried to reduce the number of calls to my recursive function

#eliminate duplicates
 for (a in solfrak)
 for (b in solfrak[!(solfrak+a>1)])
 for (c in solfrak[!(solfrak+a+b>1)]){
   if (a+b+c<=1){ albukz=rbind(albukz,
   if (is.matrix(albukz)){ 

  if (hor>1){
     for (i in 1:3)
     for (j in (i+1):4)
     if (is.matrix(albukz)){

which led to a most surprising outcome:

> petifil(hor=2)
[1] 1.333
> petifil(hor=3)
[1] 1.5
> petifil(hor=4)
[1] 1.5
> petifil(hor=5)
[1] 1.5

that is no feasible strategy to beat the value 1.5 liters. Which actually stands way below two liters, the maximum content of the bucket produced in the solution!

a one-chance meeting [puzzle]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, R with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2018 by xi'an

This afternoon, I took a quick look at the current Riddler puzzle, which sums up as, given three points A, B, C, arbitrarily moving on a plane with a one-shot view of their respective locations, find a moving rule to bring the three together at the same point at the same time. And could not spot the difficulty.

The solution seems indeed obvious when expressed as above rather than in the tell-tale format of the puzzle. Since every triangle has a circumscribed circle, and all points on that circle are obviously at the same distance of the centre O, the three points have to aim at the centre O. Assuming they all move at the same velocity, they will reach O together…

The question gets a wee bit more interesting when the number of points with the same one-time one-shot view option grows beyond 3, as these points will almost surely not all lie on a single circumscribed circle. While getting them together can be done by (a) finding the largest circle going through 3  points and containing all others [in case there is no such circle, adding an artificial point solves the issue!], triplet on which one can repeat the above instructions to reach O, and (b) bringing all points inside the circle to meet with one of the three points [the closest] on its straight-line way to O, by finding a point on that line at equal distance from both, a subsidiary question is whether or not this is the fastest way. Presumably not.  (Again I may be missing one item of the puzzle.)

When experimenting with a short R code, I quickly figured out that the circumscribed circles associated with all triplets do not necessarily contain all points. The resolution of this difficulty is however straightforward as it suffices to add an artificial point by considering all circumcentres and their distances to the farthest point, minimising over these distances and adding the extra point at random over the circumference. As in the example below.Incidentally, it took me much longer to write this post than to solve the puzzle, as I was trying to use the R function, which supposedly turns a centre and a radius into the corresponding circle, but somehow misses its target by adapting the curve to the area being displayed. I am still uncertain of what the function means. I hence ended up writing a plain R function for this purpose:


Le Monde puzzle [#1043]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , on March 5, 2018 by xi'an

An arithmetic Le Monde mathematical puzzle :

A number is “noble” if all its digits are different and if it is equal to the average of all numbers created by permuting its digits. What are the noble numbers?

There is no need for simulation when plain enumeration works. After failing to install the R packge permutations, I installed the R package permute, which works, although (a) the function allPerm does not apply directly to a vector of characters or numbers but only to its size:

> allPerms(c("a","r","h"))
     [,1] [,2] [,3]
[1,]    1    3    2
[2,]    2    1    3
[3,]    2    3    1
[4,]    3    1    2
[5,]    3    2    1

and (b) as seen above the function does not contain “all” permutations since it misses the identity permutation.  Which ends up being fine for solving this puzzle. Using a bit of digit-character manipulation

  for (u in 1:(10^N-1)){
    if (length(digz)<N) 
    if (length(unique(digz))==N){
      if (mean(permz%*%10^{(N-1):0})==u) print(u)}}}

I found solutions for N=3

> findzol(3)
[1] 370
[1] 407
[1] 481
[1] 518
[1] 592
[1] 629

and none for N=4,5,6. Le Monde gives solutions for N=9, which is not achievable by my code!