Questions tagged [combinatorics]

A puzzle based on combinatorial mathematics, which is the study of finite or countable discrete structures.

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30
votes
5answers
6k views

Two spies throwing stones into a river

There is a puzzle about two spies: Two spies must pass each other two secret numbers (one number per spy), unnoticed by their enemies. They have agreed on a method for doing this using only 26 ...
23
votes
8answers
3k views

How to choose at least half of everything

Some number of gold, silver, and copper coins are scattered in $N$ chests. You may look into each chest and count each type of coin in them, and then select $M$ of the chests. Your goal is to have at ...
16
votes
9answers
7k views

Salesman's claim for mechanical keypad lock - 5 buttons and 545 combinations!

A company makes mechanical keypad locks. The keypad is a set of five buttons arranged vertically. O O O O O The buttons are quite close together. Once a ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

The maximum number of SETs with six cards

The SET game works with a deck of $81$ cards. Each card contains a set of symbols with four attributes: color (red, green, purple), shading (empty, striped, or solid), shape (oval, squiggle, or ...
24
votes
4answers
2k views

Savage Road Signs

There is a highway that starts in the city of Savage. You must must place distance marker signs on this highway for the outgoing traffic. According to highway code, there must be a distance marker ...
-5
votes
4answers
157 views

Go for the Gold

You are given a bag containing 1 and 2 ounce gold rounds. You need to draw one coin at a time till they Sum up to ten rounds. How many different ways you can achieve that? What is the quickest path ...
0
votes
3answers
129 views

Approximate this big number using a binomial [closed]

Mr. Magico is a greater believer in this number: $$2^{50}=1,125,899,906,842,624‬$$ He also like to play cards, although he isn't fussy about the size of his deck, and nor does he care how many ...
12
votes
5answers
750 views

Cup and Trade: The Perfect Nutmeg Soup

Your package from Orinoco has finally arrived! It's the Master Chef's Environmentally-Friendly Measuring Cup Set. It comes with 64 measuring cups having a volume of 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup, ....
12
votes
3answers
582 views

How many possible starting positions are uniquely solvable for a nonogram puzzle?

This type of puzzle goes by many names: Nonogram, Picross, and Griddlers are all mentioned on the Wikipedia page, Simon Tatham calls it Pattern, I was introduced to it as Descartes Rainbow, ... The ...
2
votes
2answers
343 views

How many codes are possible?

The line - codes we are looking at consist of black and red lines. These lines can have width 1 or 2. Black and red lines are taking turns, black line, red line, black line, ... The code ends and ...
0
votes
2answers
83 views

It is not as Simple as it Looks to get the right Alignment

Of these US Coins (Quarter and Dime Combo). Initial arrangement of the coins as shown in the picture is as follows... Q D Q D Q D Q Objective is to attain the final configuration... Q Q Q Q D D D. ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Finding numbers having exactly two distinct digits

We have $10^K$ road signs (numbered 0 through $10^K−1$). For each valid $i$, the sign with number $i$ has the integer $i$ written on one side and $10^K−i−1$ written on the other side. We need to ...
3
votes
2answers
316 views

5 cars in a roundabout traffic

Five cars are driving in a roundabout traffic at the same moment. Each comes from an other direction, and drives less than one full round. Also each car leave the roundabout traffic in an other ...
6
votes
2answers
257 views

Savage Road Signs (Part 3)

You only need to have read Part 1 to understand this question, reading Part 2 will only help understanding the epic storyline. Your daughter refuses to talk to you even though you have (once more) ...
5
votes
1answer
82 views

A Prime Length Rope into Prime length ropes

We have a rope with a prime unit length, and we need to divide this rope into $9$ ropes by cutting it with prime and/or 1 unit lengths. After cutting the rope, you are supposed to find any kind of ...
14
votes
7answers
630 views

10 coins, 3 of them are fake

Inspired by some great weighing puzzles here (This being one of my favorites), I just made another weighing puzzle - I'm not quite sure how difficult or easy this one is. You are given 10 coins, 7 of ...
2
votes
3answers
192 views

16 people, make 3 consecutive round of 4 players

I am struggling with this issue for a tournament I am planning. Take 16 people. Consider a 4-player game. To be clear, in each round all 16 players must play the game once. I want to make at least 3 ...
7
votes
4answers
286 views

Savage Road Signs (Part 2)

Please read part 1 or this might be confusing Since part 1, you have replaced the stolen stickers and your daughter has forgiven you. The highway ended up being a full 700km long, so you are happy ...
30
votes
8answers
2k views

Wolves and sheep

All the sheep were living peacefully in the Land of Shewo. But suddenly they were struck by a danger. A few wolves dressed up as sheep entered the territory of Shewo and started killing the sheep one ...
33
votes
9answers
4k views

Winning Strategy for the Magician and his Apprentice

There are $13$ upside-down opaque cups and $2$ balls, a magician and his apprentice and yourself. You decide under which cups to put the balls, and the objective of the magician is to find the two ...
7
votes
2answers
237 views

A Guide to the Number Rotation Puzzle

This is an extension of What is the strategy to solve Simon Tatham's Twiddle? in that it explicitly goes beyond the default gamemodes of Twiddle The Number Rotation Puzzle (NRP) is a combination ...
8
votes
6answers
829 views

Restoring order in a deck of playing cards (II)

Michelle has a deck of 52 playing cards in a pile with their backs facing up. She takes the first 2 cards in the pile, turns them over, and places them at the bottom of the pile. She now takes the ...
13
votes
3answers
2k views

Restoring order in a deck of playing cards (I)

Michelle has a deck of 52 playing cards, stacked in a pile with their backs facing up. She takes the first 2 cards in the pile, turns them over, and places them at the bottom of the pile. She now ...
9
votes
4answers
417 views

Breaking Balance (Part C)

For a starting number of otherwise identical coins there are among them TWO IDENTICAL counterfeit coins which are either heavier or lighter than the rest. Using a three-pan balance (described in ...
37
votes
2answers
4k views

Pirate democracy at its finest

With our pirate crew becoming too big, the captain grew very concerned about splitting all the treasure - we continued to split it equally, but, of course, each crew member got less and less with the ...
6
votes
5answers
324 views

How to Modernize Student Council

You are the math teacher at a high school and you are in charge of organizing Student Council for the whole school next year. Your boss, the Principal, read a research paper on Student Councils and ...
13
votes
2answers
634 views

Picking coins from two piles

It is a variation of the game of Nim. The rules are : The game is played with two piles of coins. Initially, the first pile contains N coins and the second one contains M coins. There are two ...
11
votes
4answers
307 views

Distinct Arrangements of Balls on Tiles

You want to put several balls on $8 \times 8$ tiles, such that all $16$ ball arrangements on its rows and columns are different. What is the minimum number of balls to be put? Two arrangements of ...
19
votes
6answers
2k views

My Sixteen Friendly Students

I have sixteen students in my class who sit in four rows of four. Each week they sit in a different order. After a number of weeks every student has sat next to every other student, next meaning ...
5
votes
1answer
130 views

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse

It is the zombie apocalypse. Your car has limited fuel in it, and you will not be able to refill your tank once you run out. You are planning one final mission to gather supplies. You have identified ...
-4
votes
1answer
99 views

Unlock My Phone! November 2018

I had a bit of phone trouble last year, so I had to take a break from puzzle passwords. But once I got it working again I hopped right back in, although this is a pretty easy one. What is my phone's ...
3
votes
2answers
202 views

What is the fewest amount of clicks needed to create a tier 5 tile?

PLEASE NOTE! A different problem that uses this same ruleset that can likely only be solved with brute force and a computer program has been posted to math.se, viewable HERE. I was unaware of the ...
19
votes
5answers
1k views

Island of Knights, Knaves and Spies

There is an island with $N$ inhabitants (for example $A_1, A_2, \dots, A_N$), each of them is either a knight, a knave, or a spy. As usual: knights will always tell the truth upon answering a ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

France's Public Holidays' Puzzle

In France, there are 11 public holidays. As a French employee who enjoys public holidays on week days, you want to know if it is possible that all of the 11 public holidays during one year fall on ...
1
vote
2answers
206 views

Sequence made of symbols

(My friend in real life gave me this)That's the original sequence: ⬅↕➡,⬅↕,➡,⬅,?,?,↕➡ I'm going to use other symbols to make it readable: (/), (/,), (/, ?, ?, /) I've noticed that the comma ...
1
vote
2answers
129 views

alphanumerical sequence Correct one

I have tried to solve this sequence which, I suppose has been created from the combination of a,b,c,d,e. I've reposted the correct sequence The sequence: (a,c), ?, ?, ?, (a,e), ?, ?, (c,d), ?, (b,...
5
votes
1answer
167 views

Dragons and Dragon Slayers

In the Kingdom, there are 7 dragons and 7 dragon slayers. Each dragon has ($\text{index}\times10000$) hit points (i.e. $10,000\to70,000$). Each dragon slayer does ($\text{index}\times1000$) damage (i....
21
votes
6answers
2k views

A game with 52 cards

Alice and Bob play the following game with two (identical) standard decks of $52$ cards. First Alice secretly arranges one deck of $52$ cards in a long row on the table. All cards are face-down, and ...
4
votes
2answers
624 views

Bridge building with irregular planks

Imagine you have a big rectangular pond in your back garden. You wish to build a bridge from your house in the lower left corner to the small pagoda in the top right. You have lots of planks of ...
12
votes
1answer
820 views

Hacking a Safe Lock after 3 tries

My friend has a safe lock, with a numeric password of 4 digits (varying between 0-9 each). She lost the password and looked for my help. Fortunately, I was able to hack it. I could try some different ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Four buttons on a table

I was asked lately (in an interview) to solve this puzzle, which is similar to the 4 cups on table puzzle. In a certain room there is a rotating round table, with 4 symmetrically located ...
3
votes
1answer
238 views

Albrecht Durer Inspired Magic Square

A magic square is an n-dimensional matrix in which each row, column, and main diagonal sums to the same 'magic number' (denoted by s). A normal magic square uses each of the numbers from 1 to n ...
0
votes
2answers
116 views

Chess tournament winning streaks #2

So I asked a question here, which asks how many ways there are to score 7 points in 7 chess tournament games using the system on lichess.org, outlined both here and in the original question. That was ...
6
votes
7answers
317 views

Find minimum number of meeting periods to reach 2 degrees of separation for a group [closed]

I am running a training course and I want to arrange a set of 1:1 meeting periods between the participants such that at the end of the day there is a maximum of 2 degrees of separation between any of ...
9
votes
1answer
293 views

Chess tournament winning streaks

On lichess.org, they use a points system for keeping track of who is winning in a tournament. A win is worth two points, a draw is worth one point, and a loss worth zero points. Once a player has ...
2
votes
2answers
249 views

Unlock an answering machine using minimum number of digits

You know of answering machines with a remote inquiry facility, where you can call the answering machine and enter a four digit passcode into your telephone keypad, so you can listen to your messages ...
15
votes
1answer
948 views

One beer too many

You're standing outside your apartment building after a late night out, with perhaps one beer too many, and you realize you have completely forgotten the code to get in. Luckily, you're a mathematical ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Move fast … Or you will lose

Suppose you're on a 4 × 6 grid, and want to go from the bottom left to the top right. How many different paths can you take? Avoid backtracking -- you can only move right or up.
31
votes
18answers
28k views

Draw a line through all doors

I saw the following problem on 4chan and couldn't solve it: It's very likely to be some kind of troll (no solution). I'm hoping to see some rigorous proofs that disprove the existence of such a line....
3
votes
2answers
250 views

Enumerate the ways of putting six armies of queens on a humongous chessboard

This is a sort of a sub-problem of the open puzzle Peaceful Encampments, for high numbers of armies. Consider a chessboard with an astronomically large number of vanishingly small squares, on which ...