# Questions tagged [optimization]

A mathematical puzzle where you have to optimize a certain objective function (maximize profit, minimize cost).

235 questions
41k views

### A camel transporting bananas

A somewhat well-known puzzle is described as such: You have a pile of 3,000 bananas. You wish to transport them to a place 1,000 miles away on the back of a camel; however, the camel can only carry ...
5k views

### Find a straight tunnel

There is a circular area with radius 1 km. And there is a tunnel, which is just under the surface, but invisible - unless you dig. It is known that the tunnel goes under the area (at least touches it ...
4k views

### Eight coins for the fair king

You are responsible for creating new types of coins for the court. King respects the forgetful: he wants you to create 8 coins of different value, no more. King respects the feeble: he wants that any ...
5k views

### Amnesiac in a ring shaped palace

Related: Turn off all lights in a ring-shaped palace Your boss has trapped you inside a ring-shaped palace, and all you know about the palace is that there are some number* of identical rooms, each ...
4k views

### Sudoku net that is always solvable

A sudoku net is a 9x9 grid where every cell is either (blank) or has a cross (block). A random solved sudoku is chosen. The net is placed on top of the sudoku (in any of the 4 ways). We can only see ...
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### Will a greedy algorithm solve Tatham's Flood?

I was just investigating some of the puzzles on Simon Tatham's website, and came across Flood, in which we start with an $n\times n$ grid of cells each of which is filled with one of $k$ predetermined ...
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### Dinosaur egg drop

Archeologists discover two dinosaur eggs, and you are given the chance to test the durability of these eggs (bad move on their part). Suppose that these eggs will absorb a specific amount of force ...
3k views

### Biggest army on a chessboard

Reminder: Everybody knows that we can place 8 queens in a chessboard without threatening each other (see here). Same reasoning can be applied for knights, bishops, rooks and kings. Giving ...
3k views

### Cross-road optimization - what is the proper way to solve this type of puzzle?

This puzzle has 3 levels of increasing complexity. Each "level" is separate and complete, so feel free to post partial solutions to the individual levels only. I'm most interested in the principal ...
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 ...
3k views

### 12 Birds in the petshop

You decided to buy 2 birds from a pet shop and went to a pet shop for it. There are 12 budgerigars at the pet shop and you want a male and a female for your home. You cannot distinguish the gender of ...
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### One prize, infinitely many choices

Having reached the final stage of a game show, you face an endless row of doors labelled $1$, $2$, $3$, ... The game show host has selected a whole dollar amount, and has put this exact amount as a ...
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### A Special Parking Lot

There is a special kind of parking lot that stores special 1x1 cars that only can move to adjacent squares not including diagonals if they are empty (provided no car occupies the square). Every car ...
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### The tilted labyrinth - Can you find the fastest path in this 3D-puzzle? (Simulator now included.)

This is a puzzle was inspired by the board game labyrinth, which I very much enjoyed as a kid. It either requires very good 3D-visualization skills in your brain or some paper & scissors work. (...
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### How much money can we make?

My five friends and I used to loan each other money all the time. But over the past several years we have moved apart. We don't trust PayPal, banks, or the postal service so transferring money over ...
666 views

### Concentrating tokens on an infinite board

One token is placed on each square of an infinite checkerboard. One square is marked with an X. You want to get as many tokens on the marked square as possible. To do this, you may make any finite ...
2k views

### How much water do you need to cross the desert?

This question is inspired by Terry Pratchett's "Small Gods," in which an army crosses a vast desert by making multiple trips and caching water along the way. 1. Provide an answer. 2. I doubt I'm the ...
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### A thirsty king and his knights

The black king has spent his life fighting over this strange checkered land, the white king has finally been defeated and his troops have surrendered and pledged allegiance to him. Now he's not sure ...
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### Trapped in my Cellar

I have taken Doorknob hostage in my cellar. He is "perfectly" trapped - solid walls, solid floor, solid roof, no windows, etc. The only way out is a steel door and the only way to unlock the door is ...
2k views

### How many boxes are conductors?

The Question (Some knowledge of potential difference, resistor combinations, etc. required) You have 1000 boxes. Some (or none) of them are conductors (of negligible resistance). The rest are ...
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### 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 ...
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### Knights and jokers

There are $N$ men. $K$ of them are knights, $M$ of them are jokers. $N$ is known, $K$ and $M$ are unknown. You know that: $K + M = N$, $K \gt M$, $M \ge 1$, $N$ is odd. Knights always tell ...
2k views

### 30 fake coins out of 99 coins

You are given 99 coins which consists of 30 fake ones. You also have a digital balance scale with perfect precision that shows how much difference between weighs you put on. For example, if you put 10 ...
862 views

### numbers want to cross a river, but their sum must be a square number

In the world of numbers, numbers 1 to 9 want to cross a river, They have a boat which can take 1 to 3 numbers, But sum of the numbers must be a square number. The boat can not sail back itself, so ...
2k views

### Soldiers in the Parade Ground

Twenty-five soldiers are standing in a parade ground consisting of a five-by-five grid of large concrete slabs, laid out in a neat north-to-south, east-to-west square array. Each soldier is standing ...
932 views

### Universal dissection

Alice has a squared paper 8 by 8. She cuts out one 1x1 square from it, at row N, column M. Bob cuts the rest of the paper into pieces. Once he is done, Alice asks Bob to put the pieces together in a ...
1k views

### Rigged casino that prevents pairs

This question is still active as the answer from @Sleafar has just arrived. Not yet solved. Scenario The heads of 3 top terrorist organisations are planning to play an extremely high-stake poker ...
765 views

### Maximize the number of paths

You have exactly 990 edges. Assemble them into a simple undirected graph with two distinguished vertices A and B, such that the number of different simple paths from A to B is as large as you can make ...
2k views

### Bulls without cows: how many steps are needed to solve this?

I'm bad at this sort of minimum-solve problems so I'm asking for you, proud riddle solvers! There's this huge hangar with 72 different airplanes. They come in six different colors Each color has ...
780 views

### Santa Claus flies to the South Pole

It is a little known fact that Santa Claus is in fact a vampire. Why else would he spend so much time near the North Pole and travel only at night? Yes, he fears daylight! His problem is that ...
432 views

### Keeping a ball lost forever

Suppose you can make a rectangular maze, where each cell (apart from the bottom-right) can contain an arrow in one of the four directions (up, down, left or right) of your choosing, except for those ...
1k views

### 6 Water Glasses Upside Down

There are 6 water glasses as shown in the picture below: You need to turn all of them upside down with the rules below: You have to choose any 5 of them at every turn. Chosen ones need to be turned ...
2k views

### Three riders, two horses

We have three riders which need to travel some distance (say, 13.5km) through a rough terrain (no running, no skiing etc., only walking or horse trot), but they have only two horses. The speed of a ...
1k views

### How many clues are required to ensure Einstein's Puzzle is solvable?

I used to play Einstein's puzzles a lot when I was younger, and very quickly learned to assess quite rapidly whether I thought a puzzle would be a quick solve or more time-consuming, but I never ...
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### Leveling up and Getting Items!

You are playing an online RPG game with 9 friends of yours (10 people in total) and in the game, there is a 2-player dungeon where you level up every time you enter and complete it. Only up to two ...
2k views

### 99 coins into the sacks

You have 99 coins that you need to place into any number of sacks. After doing so, you write on each one the number of sacks that are lighter than that sack. For example, if you put 98 coins into one ...
3k views

### A dice game, what is the optimal strategy?

Alice was walking on the street when she came across a man playing with a die. She could not help trying to check if the die was loaded and while she was concluding that it wasn't loaded, the man ...
395 views

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### Fastest way to collect an arbitrary army

I am looking for solution of this puzzle: There is a kingdom with a square shape with sides of length 1. The castle is located at the center of the square. At the castle the king lives under the ...
810 views

### Day and night of the two timers

Make a non - 24 - hour day /  night cycle       &...
2k views

### Cracking a combination lock

Let's consider the humble mechanical combination lock. The basic type has $n$ dials, with $k$ digits on each dial, for a total of $k^n$ possible combinations. (Typical luggage locks or suitcase lock ...
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 ...