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Questions tagged [optimization]

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

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27
votes
10answers
3k views

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 ...
31
votes
3answers
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
433 views

Tune a podracer and choose the pilots by solving the podracer tuning equation

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... These are troublesome times: The Galactic Republic is gone, the Jedis were exterminated due to order 66, Vader and Palpatine rules the galaxy with ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

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. (...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Sell the fuel and become a Millionaire [duplicate]

You are living in the 22nd century. The fuel prices are unimaginably high and it is very rare to get, so the Government has introduced some new laws to control fuel smuggling. Rule 1: One cannot ...
5
votes
2answers
637 views

What to do when the official Rubik's cube solving sequence breaks?

So, the official guide shows you exactly how to solve the white cross, first layer, etc. but on the second layer, assume you've completed every little square but one (and edge) and that there's 2 ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Ernie and the Geometric Ginger Cookies

Ernie loves cooking and it's always worth the wait as he follows his curiously precise recipe to make Ginger Crunch Cookies. So I was happy to drop around when he invited me to help test his latest ...
30
votes
7answers
5k views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
530 views

If The Knights and Knaves got together [closed]

If the island of knights and knaves got together and there were n people, including a joker, how many questions would it take for all of the knights and knaves found the joker? Nobody knows who each ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Optimization of area

You have a closed cord of length 100 meters which touches point $P$. There is a line $L$ whose closest point is 20 meters from point $P$. The value of a layout of cord is defined by the area ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

Connect four towers by roads

Four guard towers are situated in a square formation of side length 1km. A general wants to build roads to connect the towers so that one can walk from any tower to any tower along the roads, possibly ...
6
votes
3answers
402 views

Abalone Migration

Abalone is a 2-player board game. Here's a brief explanation from Wikipedia: The board consists of 61 circular spaces arranged in a hexagon, five on a side. Each player has 14 marbles that rest in ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Sorting cards using max 3 stacks

You have a stack of N cards numbered from 1 to N in random order. You want to sort the cards in ascending order using the following procedure: Your initial stack is stack 1. You distribute the cards ...
42
votes
17answers
8k views

A blanket for my baby snake

Mama snake wants to knit a blanket for little baby snake. She is not a dissipater and wants to make the blanket of a minimal size (area). But her baby snake is quite a lively baby and it always ...
7
votes
1answer
406 views

Shortest time interval measurable via burning a rope

You are given some matches, a rope, and a pair of scissors. The rope burns irregularly and takes 60 minutes to burn end to end; however, we know that the burn rate at distance $x$ from the left end is ...
15
votes
2answers
792 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
390 views

Bottle rinsing with fixed amount of wash water

Given $L$ units of wash water, we want to wash out a vessel (eg, a milk bottle, honey jar, chemistry flask...) using a series of rinses that minimize the amount of Stuff other than water remaining in ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Folding a hexagon to a rectangle or square, with uniform overlap

A piece of fabric shaped like a regular hexagon with unit-length sides is given, with vertices A...F and center O. Let a fold correspond to folding some fabric along a straight line, without ...
4
votes
2answers
573 views

What's the largest number that can be obtained in the process of solving a numbers game on Countdown?

Countdown is a British game show in which people try and make the longest possible word out of nine given letters, reach a target number using six given numbers and basic arithmetic, and then solve a ...
5
votes
2answers
411 views

Land claim staking

It was traditional during the times of the Oregon Trail and the gold rush that men founding new towns were allowed to stake their claim on land upon arriving to the west coast. Suppose a man is ...
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 ...
18
votes
3answers
3k views

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 ...
12
votes
7answers
3k views

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 ...
63
votes
11answers
47k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
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 ...