So I have a question for you all, it's probably not too hard for you but it's relatively simple:

How many times does variable appear?

The hint for the variable is pretty short too:

I am very small, you think of me little, you can find me in many places, even though I'm tiny. I am even in here.

I'll accept the answer with an explanation, and a spoiler.

  • $\begingroup$ An interesting title. Any puzzle having a definite solution necessarily contains some reasonable encoding of its own answer, for reasonable definitions of "reasonable". It certainly applies here. $\endgroup$ – Keen Nov 4 '14 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ This question makes me nervous because editors need to be careful not to change the answer. On the other hand, once you have the answer to the italicized riddle, the answer to the bolded question is simple. With that in mind, I think "variable" is a strange word to use... I would have said something like "the answer". The problem is, even if that's deemed a better word, it would be bad to edit the question! $\endgroup$ – TheRubberDuck Nov 4 '14 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ You can change it to "do I". This corresponds to the hint. $\endgroup$ – IllidanS4 wants Monica back Nov 5 '14 at 0:50
  • $\begingroup$ @EnvisionAndDevelop You see the thing with that is, any edits have to be approved by me or someone higher up. I'm not going to edit it, and if I approve one I'll make sure the answer is the same. If it's someone like DoorKnob whom I don't have to approve, I'm sure they'd be careful enough. $\endgroup$ – warspyking Nov 5 '14 at 1:19
  • $\begingroup$ @warspyking admittedly, I'm not nervous because I'm worried that someone will accidentally mess up the question; I'm worried that the question was designed in such a way as to resist editing. I do love "meta" style questions, but this one is hurting the SE format! $\endgroup$ – TheRubberDuck Nov 5 '14 at 3:30


29, or 33 including the title of the question


The first question is what "variable" refers to. The hint says that it is in "here". To me this indicates that it should be a letter, and since "you can find [it] in many places", I believe it is the most common of the letters in the word "here" - 'e'. Then I counted the number of 'e's in the entire question.

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    $\begingroup$ Even better, the hint says it is even in 'here', and only one letter shows up an even amount of times in 'here' (discounting zero times for most letters). $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Nov 4 '14 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Geobits: Not only does it show up an even number of times, but it shows up in the even positions: 2, and 4. (Assuming 1-based indexing). $\endgroup$ – Jonathan Pullano Nov 5 '14 at 18:56


How many times does variable appear?

Answer: (is in the question)



The word variable appears in the question once, and also once in the extraneous data.


My first bet was a period ., the smallest visible character in the question. Found three times in the question body and three more times in the title.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you British? From what I know, "." is a period. $\endgroup$ – warspyking Nov 4 '14 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ You didn't have to change it, I was just wondering. $\endgroup$ – warspyking Nov 4 '14 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ Oh and actually, a period do not appear 3 times in the title, that is a suspension point. $\endgroup$ – warspyking Nov 5 '14 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ @warspyking That's known as an ellipsis. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Nov 5 '14 at 3:38


Why is the letter e considered as tiny? If we're talking about written language components, the dot would be more appropriate in my opinion. "It's in here" can imply that the variable is present in the question block, not just the word "here".

My two cents:

The dot. It appears multiple times in the question: 3 times as a period, 3 times as an element of the character i.

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    $\begingroup$ It's tiny because it's lowercase. $\endgroup$ – warspyking Nov 7 '14 at 20:11

The letter "e" appears 33 times including the number that are in the title.


Actually if you say variable as a "word" it has appeared one time, if you say variable as a "place holder" as programming languages, it has appeared 33 times (along with the question).


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