# The smallest and the largest number [closed]

Shown below is number 10 formed with 5 sticks.

1 Move exactly 1 stick to get the smallest non-zero positive number.

2 Move exactly 1 stick to get the largest non zero positive number.

Some creative thinking is needed.

• Must the number be dimensionless? Mar 14 at 22:59
• not necessary. Lateral thinking is in play
– DrD
Mar 14 at 23:04
• What about 1μ = 0.000001 ? μ is supposed to be a prefix, not sure it can be used without an unit. But it says "lateral thinking". Mar 14 at 23:05
• Vg vf yngreny guvaxvat. Zvpeba vf trarenyyl rkcerffrq nf zh evtug?
– DrD
Mar 14 at 23:10
• Curious, what was the intended answer?
– Amoz
Mar 19 at 2:52

For the largest number, you can move 1 stick like this

which forms a "M"; 1000 in Roman Numerals.

And for the smallest number, you can move 1 stick like this

1^0, which is 1.

For the largest number,

Move the top right stick to the bottom left to create ω, a representation of infinity.

For the smallest,

Do the same and rotate the view 90° to create ε, an infinitesimal, which is the smallest nonzero positive number.

For 1, if we are allowed quantities with dimensions, then we can form

1 / c, where c is the speed of light. Using standard units gives approximately 3x10-9 s/m, i.e., the number of seconds it takes light to travel 1 meter. However, we can further make this number arbitrarily small by using arbitrarily small units of length or arbitrarily large units of time, e.g., the number of yottaseconds it takes light to travel one Planck length is approximately 5×10-68.

For 2, we can form

1 / c as before, but now creating arbitrarily large numbers by using arbitrarily large units of length or arbitrarily small units of time, e.g., the number of Planck times it takes light to travel one yottameter is approximately 6x1058.

For #1,

Move the single match to make an 8. But then view it rotated 90 degrees and claim that it's an infinity symbol.

– DrD
Mar 14 at 23:07
• Additionally, the length of the stick you are moving is more than the horizontal lines
– DrD
Mar 14 at 23:13
• You gave a lateral thinking tag. Mar 15 at 11:46
• @DrD It may be considered a number. With a directive to use lateral thinking and without any provided definition of a number, how can we know what is permitted? Mar 15 at 15:44

My minimum:

Rotate the view 90 degrees (either way)
Reposition one stick to get $$3$$

A smaller Rot13(aba-vagrtre) result:

Reposition one stick to get $$1 / C$$ Roman $$0.01$$

My maximum:

Rotate the view 180 degrees (either way)
Reposition one stick to get $$CL$$ Roman $$150$$

For the minimum number:

Move the stick at the top of the 0 to the left, so it connects the 1 and the left stick of the 0. Rotate it 90 degrees and it's a 2.

For the maximum number:

It doesn't specify how far you have to move the stick. Move the stick of the 1 slightly over, so it's still a 10.

For the largest number:

move the top matchstick to the empty bottom spot to form a "w" shape indicating omega (the ordinal number).

For the smallest number:

move the singleton matchstick below and to the left of the "zero" matchsticks to form 1 to the zeroth power, i.e., 1, the smallest non-zero ordinal.