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Draw exactly two non-touching straight lines to turn 1111 (as shown below) into zero.

four identical vertical lines side-by-side

Note: A minus sign is one line

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15 Answers 15

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How about this for a solution?

it spells NIL

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    $\begingroup$ I thought the non touching part also means no touching the 1111 , does it become easier or something if the 2 lines can touch anything? $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2023 at 8:22
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    $\begingroup$ @encryptoferia I interpreted it as the two lines you add can't touch each other, but if it makes you feel better, you can add a little bit of whitespace where my lines touch the existing ones and it'll still read the same $\endgroup$
    – juicifer
    Nov 16, 2023 at 13:28
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A minus sign is one line.

Fine.

enter image description here
Not nearly as nice as juicifer's answer, mind you.

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Solutions

|0| -> absolute value of 0 is 0

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    $\begingroup$ @Tim it's explained in the second spoiler. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2023 at 16:59
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More mathematical then lateral:

$\overline{11-11}$ (complex conjugate of 0, which equals 0)

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Lateral-thinking

Striked input

Just strike through everything you don't need, and what remains is "ZERO".

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    $\begingroup$ you could argue the top is a 5 $\endgroup$
    – rtaft
    Nov 17, 2023 at 20:14
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A very simple solution, without any trick, that doesn't appear to have been proposed yet :

ii - 1 - 1

i.e.

II - I - I
The sticks are read as Latin numbers (anyway they don't correspond to any arabic number)

Let's do the maths :

2-1-1=0

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  • $\begingroup$ I like your solution, but regarding the "they don't correspond to any arabic number" comment, | | sure looks like 11 to me. $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2023 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JasonPatterson I think it's much more common to write 1 with a small diagonal top left strike, but you're right if we consider old-style numerals. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_numeral_variations?wprov=sfla1 $\endgroup$
    – Evargalo
    Nov 19, 2023 at 9:30
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Use 2 straight lines to draw an ! at the beginning of 1111.

You will get

!1111

which, at least, in JavaScript results to false but equals (with == not ===) to 0.

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I tried earlier to answer this, realized I was doing basic math wrong, and deleted my answer in a near-fatal bout of self-consciousness. Attempt #2:

$11^1 - 11$

NOTE: turns out this is a duplicate of @AxiomaticSystem's answer.

Nothing to see here....

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    $\begingroup$ This answer already exists though (by @AxiomaticSystem). $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2023 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @infinitezero, Ah. I had missed that. Thanks for the callout. $\endgroup$
    – Qning
    Nov 19, 2023 at 12:40
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Have some questionable answers:

Option A (requires $x$):

Take the second derivative of a constant: option A

Option B (requires squinting):

Kind of vaguely the word "NULL": option B

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Absolute value of -1, minus 1

Explanation:

|-1| - 1 = 0

Another one, if we allow different glyphs:

Absolute value of 1, minus 1

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||| = |

Either 111 = 1, which is false, evaluates to 0 in VAX BASIC; or Roman numeral III = I, false for the same reason.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Nov 17, 2023 at 18:07
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1 - 1/1

(padding for minimum 30 characters)

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Similar in logic to another solution:

Boolean Negate: Boolean Negate
$\lnot 1111$

Whether the negate is on the first digit or whole expression doesn't matter:
$\lnot (1\cdot1\cdot1\cdot1) = 0$ by Idempotence law
($\lnot 1)\cdot1\cdot1\cdot1 = 0$ by Annulment law

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Flip the picture sideways and visualise it like a digital alarm clock or a scientific calculator: 1111 Flipped Sideways:

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    $\begingroup$ How is that a zero? It looks more like some kind of super-8 to me. $\endgroup$
    – Hearth
    Nov 17, 2023 at 3:19
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How's about:

| | = | |

Explanation - hopefully this isn't too janky.

11 = 11 Both sides cancel out and you're left with 0 = 0, or just 0.

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