Jill and Suzie are given the same data set and instructed to rank each entry, but they are not allowed to rank the data using the same criteria.

Jill goes first and has no trouble at all. She easily evaluates her rankings and writes down her top 15:

90, 80, 40, 10, 70, 95, 75, 94, 35, 20, 15, 5, 73, 25, 55

Suzie takes what seems like the next best approach after Jill's and starts writing down her top rankings:

95, 90, 80, 70

But after only the first 4 she runs into a problem. Thinking on her feet, she tweaks her method and is able to continue:

10, 40, 74, 94, 35

But after 9 entries, she encounters another problem, and this time she's really stuck. Unable to determine a tiebreaker, she declares a 3-way tie for 10th place:

69 / 20 / 15

She then continues with 13th and 14th place:

75, 55

But she's forced to declare a tie again at 15th:

64 / 81

Jill gloats smugly at Suzie, having clearly chosen the superior ranking method. Suzie knows she had the more difficult task, but she feels the data they were given was partly to blame.

What data were Jill and Suzie ranking? What method did each use, and why does Suzie feel that the data was partly to blame for her failure?

Hint #1: The data table Jill and Suzie were using had three entries that were broken down into two rows each (unlike the majority of the entries, which were each entered on one row). The girls treated each row of data as an individual data point and ranked them accordingly. However, if their data table had presented with each of these entries as only one row of (the equivalent combined) data, 84 would have ranked 15th for Jill and 9th for Suzie.

Hint #2: The in this puzzle is specific to the US.

  • $\begingroup$ Suzie's rankings have either 13 entries (counting each tie—at 10 and 13 respectively—as one) or 16 entries (4 + 5 + 3 + 2 + 2) $\endgroup$ Jan 8, 2016 at 16:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @question_asker, Suzie has ranked a total of 16 entries, but she has only awarded 13 unique ranks due to the ties. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Jan 8, 2016 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ OK cool, just making sure I wasn't miscounting, thank you! $\endgroup$ Jan 8, 2016 at 17:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @question_asker: Sorry for the confusion. To clarify, the data table had significantly more rows than those that are ranked. The hint refers to three unique entries which were further broken down into to rows unlike the other entries. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Jan 14, 2016 at 16:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SpiritFryer, you are asking a very good question, part of which was intentionally left vague. </hint> However, I will clarify that both girls are definitely using columns of information that are not presented in the puzzle to arrive at their rankings and that their ranked entries do correspond to one another (90, Jill's #1, is the same entry as 90, Suzie's #2). $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Jan 15, 2016 at 17:21

2 Answers 2


Jill has ranked

the US Interstate Highways



Suzie has ranked them by

number of states passed through, and then by age as a tiebreaker.

The problem is that

some Interstates pass through the same number of states, and were formed in the same year. Because these are the only statistics provided other than the length, Suzie has no other way to order them.

  • $\begingroup$ Correct! She could also have been frustrated at having just the year instead of the exact date, but that part of the question was bound to have more than one answer. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Jan 19, 2016 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ What is the problem Suzie runs into after the fourth one? $\endgroup$ Jan 25, 2016 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain After the fourth one, there were ties by number of states, which is when she had to add age as a tiebreaker. $\endgroup$
    – f''
    Jan 25, 2016 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, right. Thanks. You explained that in your answer; my brain just wasn't quite working right. $\endgroup$ Jan 25, 2016 at 20:24

It could be temperature based on latitude (North to South) and longitude (east to west).

  • $\begingroup$ Can you explain why you think thay? Plain answers are usually deleted. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Jan 8, 2016 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ If that's the case, why was it so much easier for Jill? What tweak did Suzie make after ranking her top 4? $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Jan 8, 2016 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Deusovi It is a potential response - that demonstrate that ranking of on value based on other values may result different ranking. $\endgroup$
    – Moti
    Jan 8, 2016 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Josh there might be a "better" answer but assuming Suzie elected to use longitude and some values had the same longitude, than applying latitude gets this ranking. $\endgroup$
    – Moti
    Jan 8, 2016 at 19:09
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ My point was that this question is multi-faceted and your answer does not explain itself to the degree requested. I am open to answers other than the one I intended if they answer the question completely and without any holes in logic. Even with your additional explanation, you haven't answered what data they were ranking, what method Jill used, or why Suzie in part blamed the data for her failure. $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Jan 8, 2016 at 19:17

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