Questions tagged [word-problem]

A mathematical puzzle that's stated in words, usually in terms of a story or a situation that dresses the problem up.

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110
votes
6answers
24k views

100 Prisoners' Names in Boxes

Names in Boxes The names of 100 prisoners are placed in 100 wooden boxes, one name to a box, and the boxes are lined up on a table in a room. One by one, the prisoners are led into the room;...
41
votes
11answers
11k views

They all gave the same one word answer - What answer did they give? [closed]

Here's a slightly different, fairly easy one. Three men travel for almost a day across an unknown distance to a meeting point. One travelled by car, another by horse and the other by boat. When ...
41
votes
3answers
1k views

The telltale code

The other night, while writing this Java class that could be serialized into a socket, I fell asleep and had a weird dream. In my dream, when I ran the program, the socket and the class object ...
34
votes
4answers
3k views

Magnets on a whiteboard

Alice enjoys placing magnets on a magnetized whiteboard. This day, she placed all 16 magnets in her possession on the board in a rectangular fashion. o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o "...
33
votes
9answers
6k views

Find the composite poison in the wine bottles

You are the ruler of a medieval kingdom who loves throwing parties. The courtier who tried to poison one of your wine bottles last time was furious to learn that you managed to identify which bottle ...
32
votes
2answers
2k views

The Nuclear Missile Standoff

Three world powers have just entered a nuclear war! They have been waiting for this day for decades; everyone has their nuclear missiles ready to fire, and only need to choose a target. The Chinese ...
31
votes
10answers
6k views

100 Prisoners and a clock

There are 100 Prisoners who are given a chance at freedom. The prisoners are randomly picked to visit a room where there is only a nonfunctional wall clock with a ...
31
votes
1answer
3k views

Ernie and the Island of Stability

Unfortunately, it appears that I may have misled you a little in this puzzle (as you probably know - my memory of events isn't always perfect). When I was writing it, I re-checked the Kzijekistanian ...
30
votes
7answers
8k views

Aside from brute force, how can I solve this puzzle?

Once upon a time, and old lady went to sell her vast quantity of eggs at the local market. When asked how many she had, she replied: Son, I can't count past 100 but I know that: If you ...
27
votes
1answer
4k views

The Comforting Death Message

Linda sadly passes away in a stampede of elephants and when she reaches St. Peter, she is distressed because she doesn't think she'll be buried properly on the family grave plot and having to listen ...
26
votes
2answers
4k views

What's the password?

War has broken out in the kingdom. The king's castle is guarded pretty heavily, by guards with instructions to kill anyone who can't produce the correct password. Unbeknownst to the guards, the ...
25
votes
2answers
3k views

Five loaves and the extra traveller

Two people are travelling together. One of them has three loaves of bread; the other one has two. At some point they stop to eat lunch. A third traveler that happens to walk by joins them. They split ...
25
votes
7answers
10k views

Mysterious Murder Mystery 2

"Take her away!" commands the police officer, as two other officers handcuff the blonde woman. "Good work, Detective! I can see why you were named the number one detective. Keep up the great work!". ...
25
votes
4answers
8k views

How do you solve a word puzzle when you have no idea where to start?

When you're looking at a logical word puzzle, what sorts of clues should you try to look for to solve them? There have been quite a few puzzles posted to this site so far that I spent a few minutes ...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

Ernie and the Pirates of the Caribbean

A few weeks ago, I dropped in to see Ernie to ask if he was willing to look after the cat while I was on holiday in the Caribbean. “No problem.” he replied then showed me an old leather-covered book, ...
23
votes
2answers
2k views

Which data file is genuine?

NASA has spent hundreds of millions of dollars gathering data about cave systems in one region of the planet Mars. The project just finished up, and analysts will soon be ready to start analyzing the ...
22
votes
2answers
3k views

The Dwarves' Test

One day, the chief of the dwarves decided he wanted to test his tribe. So that night, he told the dwarves that he would paint on each dwarf's back a dot colored either red or blue. Each dwarf will ...
22
votes
1answer
926 views

The box with the curious inscriptions

A librarian browsing the basement of a library came across an empty box. Its contents were missing, and to her annoyance even its label had been vandalized. The label did tell her that the box had ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

Winning an unfair game

I came across the following interesting problem today: A game consists of a sequence of plays; on each play either you or your opponent scores a point, you with probability $p < \frac{1}{2}$, he ...
20
votes
3answers
5k views

Too Many Damn Buffalos [closed]

"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" The sentence above is an actual sentence which makes perfect sense and is not wrong. The word "Buffalo" has three meanings: ...
20
votes
5answers
3k views

Guess the object - What Am I Riddle (Part 3)

I'm lying down, with a dah-ditty-dah, in the middle of the end, I'd hang upside-down similarly with my friend, Were I to flip over, with a dah-ditty-dah, it'd be the middle of the day, Right way up I ...
20
votes
4answers
783 views

Ernie and the Uneconomical Flat-breads

When I arrived at Ernie's place last weekend I had some exciting news for him. "did you know", I announced "that a new Kzijekistanian fast-food shop has just opened in town?". "I did", Ernie replied, "...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Ernie and the Alien Invasion

Yesterday I dropped in on Ernie to show off my new j-watch. Ernie wouldn't be impressed by instant wrist-mounted access to social media sites like me-tube, tweeter and farce-book so I thought I would ...
18
votes
6answers
1k views

The Ball Factory Worker

A woman works at a ball factory. She's instructed to open up a ball creation kit composed of one red rubber ball and two strips of digit stickers from $0$ through $9$. She's instructed to do the ...
18
votes
1answer
720 views

Uncle Mort's Idiots

Uncle Mort was dead. Samuelson, the family lawyer, read the will. It stated that since he had no children of his own, his whole estate was to be divided between his two nieces, Roseanne and Chelsea ...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

Ernie and the Cake Cutting

Ernie had spent most of the afternoon at my place, helping me with the tile grouting in my new bathroom. It had been a difficult and messy job, so when he asked if I could do him a "small favour" I ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

N pirates steal their share of bananas to the benefit of a monkey

The following is a type of logic / math puzzle I've yet to see on this site. I feel it belongs because the kernel of this problem can be reworked into other puzzles. $N$ pirates find themselves ...
17
votes
1answer
3k views

The Laziest Surveyor

The new land surveyor and his boss arrived at the work site, a huge and perfectly flat parking lot. His boss said, "Your first assignment is going to be a tough one. You see this parking lot? It ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

100 Prisoners' Names in Boxes - Save them all!

This puzzle is based on 100 Prisoners' Names in Boxes: Names in Boxes The names of 100 prisoners are placed in 100 wooden boxes, one name to a box, and the boxes are lined up on a table ...
17
votes
5answers
4k views

Evil Kidnappers are the worst!

You wake up to the sight of a lamp hanging from a grey ceiling. You ask yourself, Where am I? The last thing you remember is falling asleep in bed last night. Sitting up, you look around. You're on ...
17
votes
5answers
1k views

Our spies are listed, but which one is actually next to be hit?

Berlin, 1973 We knew that they were on to several of our people, but unfortunately we weren't sure which ones. Pulling them out before we were certain would needlessly disrupt important sources of ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Given these numbers, find the secret word

My son is 12 years old and his task was to find an English word from these numbers: 13; -8; 2; 2; -6; 12; 2; 6; -1; -12 where ...
16
votes
1answer
924 views

Two lists of favorite words

My great aunt Edith keeps this list of her favorite words tacked on the refrigerator: Atlas Chance Detail Frost Hand Magnet Orange Ring Sand Tiger Winter Wolf My great uncle ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

A grammatically valid sentence in English containing seven “that”'s in a row?

About 20 years ago on a forum now long gone, someone posted the above question. After people had had a chance to try it, he also posted the answer. I no longer remember the answer but really wish I ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

Hidden Words in squares

I made up this puzzle, so if you are only keen on answering standard puzzles, I am sorry, I thought its been a dull day for questions so I made up my own Here is a 7 x 7 squares image with 7 8 letter ...
15
votes
1answer
906 views

Ernie and the Artificial Emmental

I dropped in on Ernie last week to help him prepare for his annual hosting of the Wine and Cheese Club party. This was a special occasion because the invited guest was the famous oenophile and ...
15
votes
2answers
722 views

Ernie and the Optical Gyroscopes

I almost always take up Ernie’s offers to crew on his boat, when he suggests an overnight expedition. But when he phoned last Thursday I had to remind him that it was TV night, and Acme Satellite ...
15
votes
2answers
645 views

Ernie and the Slow Glass Solution

"Have a look at this" said Ernie when he dropped in unannounced yesterday, pulling what looked like an old-fashioned photographic negative from an envelope. I held the small plastic square up to the ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Ernie and the Unexpectedly Exposed PIN

I dropped in on Ernie a few days ago. As I pushed open the door to his workshop I could hear a clanking, hissing noise and then saw Ernie emerging from a great clouds of steam, his face blackened with ...
14
votes
5answers
523 views

To each his own

You are a graduate student in theoretical mathematics, dabbling every so often in some interesting but equally useless computer science theory. From the beginning of the year, Professor Carl Hayden ...
14
votes
1answer
1k views

Ernie and the slice of Pi

Ernie is a renowned polyglot. Why just last week I saw him helping out at a Mathematics conference by acting as a simultaneous translator for seven guests who only spoke Hungarian, Icelandic, Swahili, ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

End of the world - on a Sunday?

If the end of the world was supposed to come on the first day of a new century, what would be the chances that it would happen on a Sunday?
13
votes
1answer
825 views

Ernie and the Calendar

I had taken an extended summer break over the Christmas New Year period but finally returned to the city at the end of January, feeling relaxed and tanned. I was looking forwards to getting back in ...
12
votes
3answers
135k views

5 Letter Word, Removing letters

Take away my first letter, and I still sound the same. Take away my last letter, I still sound the same. Even take away my letter in the middle, I will still sound the same. I am a five letter word. ...
12
votes
1answer
673 views

Ernie and the Superconducting Boxes

I was in anticipation all last week. Ernie, who had been travelling for several months, was finally coming home. So over the weekend I dropped in on him. He was bursting with news. "Some wonderful ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Diabolic Substance

What is it : Colloquially, it is a Diabolic way to win at athletic events. Take a single one, and it might be shaped like a star.
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Mysterious Murder Mystery - The Four Brothers

You get a call in the middle of the night which wakes you up violently—a call which you were not expecting. Your cell phone rings loudly because you have forgotten to turn the ringer off from the day ...
12
votes
1answer
709 views

Jack Sparrow and The quest for the missing Compass . Part 1

Hopefully this puzzle is not as easy as the last one. Jack Sparrow wakes up startled just when he was deep in slumber, after his night out with the "Ladies". He checks his pocket and finds it empty. ...
12
votes
1answer
478 views

Ernie and the Case of the Singing Sisters

On my way to work each morning I pass a news-agency that usually has a sandwich-board displaying the latest headlines of a somewhat disreputable tabloid newspaper (not that I would ever buy such a ...
12
votes
2answers
778 views

Ernie and the unfair division of the dessert

I was pleased to get an invitation to Ernie's place for dinner last Wednesday. The triplets were staying for the week so I knew Ernie would be making an extra effort to cook a gourmet home-cooked ...