You have blocks in five colors (red, green, yellow, blue and black - or 1 to 5). Each color comes in two varieties: a cube and one as big as two cubes stacked atop each other (sizes 1 and 2).

(the five colors plus white.)

You are supposed to use them to build two towers next to each other such that two blocks of the same color (in either tower) are separated by the sum of their heights. For example:

(rules regarding the distances of same-colored blocks.)

Note that this only says that each color must repeat within a given distance, but not that every block of the tower must be of a particular color, so you get white blocks to fill any holes (they don't do anything else, and they aren't subject to any of the rules above or below).

You don't know how high the tower is supposed to be, hence give the shortest repeating pattern that can be used to extend such a tower upwards for any height. Within that pattern, each block of each size and color should repeat an equal numbers of times (ignoring white, of course).

Now if that were all, finding a solution would be simple, e.g. this one:

(five colors in repeating pattern 1-left, 1-right, 2-left, 2-right.)

However, in the pattern of each tower each block size of a color should be opposite a block of each other color in the other tower. The above example doesn't fulfill this: consider the blue 2-block: while it occurs on the left opposite to the black 2-block, but never vice versa, and never opposite to the green 2-block, nor does the blue 1-block occur opposite the black 1-block.

Thus for any pair of two colors (not involving white and not both colors the same) the following patterns must occur (given as example for red and blue):

(differently colored blocks opposite each other.)

Note that in 3 and 4 they don't need to be perfectly lined up and in 5-8 the small one doesn't need to be at the same height, but there must be one box in which they are opposite, so e.g. for 3 and 5 these are alternative examples:

(blocks opposite each other yet offset.)

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    $\begingroup$ Those Ascii pictures are really hard to understand, could you please replace them with MS Paint (or something like it) pictures? $\endgroup$ – leoll2 Apr 25 '15 at 9:33
  • $\begingroup$ When checking validity, it looks like we are supposed to alternate towers looking at the same colors, and the distance between the blocks of the same color must equal the distance of the heights of the blocks. This property must hold for all blocks (except white) in both towers, right? But, from the 1st examples it seems like all blocks of the same color in the same tower must also meet the distance requirement, but then, in the displayed solution, the distance between the red blocks in either of the towers is not equal to their sum, so I'm confused. $\endgroup$ – JLee Apr 25 '15 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ This problem looks very very hard, I like it! $\endgroup$ – leoll2 Apr 25 '15 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ feeling some ambiguity in reconciling these: "each block size of a color should be opposite a block of each other color in the other tower" and in the comment above: "it doesn't always have to be opposite a block of the same size, only sometimes" $\endgroup$ – JLee Apr 26 '15 at 21:39
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    $\begingroup$ Are there any restrictions on the number of blocks we can use? That is, do we need an equal number of 1x1 and 2x1 blocks of each color? $\endgroup$ – 2012rcampion May 28 '15 at 19:55

An Example with Two Colors

This is impossible.

I can find a pattern for matching little blocks to little blocks, big to big, and big to small. The (small x small) and (big x big) towers fit together. However, it is not possible to connect the mixed tower. This stems from the fact that adding a big block adds +1 spacing but also adds +1 spacing requirement so the net gain is 0. I feel like I'm playing chess and I'm trying to get a bishop to the opposite color square.

Two Color Towers

An Example with Three Colors

I believe this may not be possible.

Again, I can find small x small and big x big that all connect but the mixed, although it is valid by itself, can't be connected to the rest.

Three Color Towers

An Example with Four Colors

I believe this is also impossible.

Again, I can find small x small and big x big that all connect but the mixed can't be connected to the rest. In fact, I couldn't even finish the mixed tower.

Four Color Towers

I was unable to integrate the following pairs into the mixed tower:

Missing Blocks in Four Colors

Weak Lower Bound for Five Colors

If I understand the problem correctly, then a weak lower bound would be 60 blocks tall.

What's shown below complies with the rule about pairs of colors being opposite each other but with no regard to the rule about them being spaced apart by the sum of their heights. There are no repeated pairs and no white spaces so I am confident that this is the lower bound. If it is possible to rearrange these to meet the final rule, then the solution would be complete. Otherwise, we must begin inserting white spaces as needed. (The tower is shown broken into pieces that can be stacked upon one another without any white space. This is merely for formatting.)

Lower Bound for Five Colors

However, even the four-color pattern is 131 blocks tall and it doesn't even meet all the requirements. I suspect that the five-color solution (if it exists) will be taller.

  • $\begingroup$ nevermind, i now see that you are saying that your answer is not even close to complete, right? $\endgroup$ – JLee Jun 24 '15 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee good catch on the typo. I just wanted to bump the question and show the pattern has to be at least 60 blocks tall. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Jun 24 '15 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ @JLee Right. This is just a possible first step. $\endgroup$ – Engineer Toast Jun 24 '15 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ I hope you're right, but I don't even see that it is that! This is the hardest puzzle that I have ever seen. The search space is so huge that I cannot imagine that a computer would be of much help. So, I'd love to see it solved. $\endgroup$ – JLee Jun 24 '15 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ Good luck, and may supernatural forces be with you $\endgroup$ – JLee Jun 24 '15 at 23:43

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