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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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122 votes
7 answers
30k 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; each may ...
Jaydles's user avatar
  • 2,007
42 votes
3 answers
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 ...
KeyboardWielder's user avatar
34 votes
9 answers
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 ...
user avatar
33 votes
3 answers
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 ...
IQAndreas's user avatar
  • 714
32 votes
1 answer
4k 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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
30 votes
1 answer
5k 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 ...
JamesENL's user avatar
  • 1,157
29 votes
7 answers
9k 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 ...
WendiKidd's user avatar
  • 2,493
28 votes
4 answers
2k 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, ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
27 votes
4 answers
9k 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 ...
WendiKidd's user avatar
  • 2,493
27 votes
2 answers
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 ...
SQB's user avatar
  • 5,148
25 votes
2 answers
3k views

Five loaves and the extra traveller [duplicate]

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 ...
Mircea's user avatar
  • 455
25 votes
7 answers
11k 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 ...
DemonicBirdFlu's user avatar
24 votes
2 answers
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 ...
JLee's user avatar
  • 19k
24 votes
3 answers
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 < 1/2, he with ...
arshajii's user avatar
  • 2,198
23 votes
2 answers
4k 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 ...
dma1324's user avatar
  • 347
22 votes
4 answers
1k 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, "...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
22 votes
1 answer
994 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 ...
KeyboardWielder's user avatar
21 votes
3 answers
7k 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 ...
kaine's user avatar
  • 9,122
20 votes
3 answers
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: ...
HumanlyRespectable's user avatar
20 votes
5 answers
4k 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 ...
d'alar'cop's user avatar
  • 12.9k
20 votes
2 answers
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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
19 votes
1 answer
846 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 ...
Hugh Meyers's user avatar
  • 23.8k
19 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
18 votes
6 answers
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 ...
Neil's user avatar
  • 2,126
18 votes
5 answers
5k 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 ...
Aify's user avatar
  • 1,939
17 votes
1 answer
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 ...
Matt Malone's user avatar
  • 5,143
17 votes
5 answers
2k 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 in a ...
durron597's user avatar
  • 2,374
17 votes
5 answers
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 ...
jscs's user avatar
  • 1,041
16 votes
1 answer
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 ...
tenepolis's user avatar
  • 263
16 votes
1 answer
952 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 ...
Luke's user avatar
  • 1,728
16 votes
1 answer
5k 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 ...
MWT's user avatar
  • 171
16 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
skv's user avatar
  • 5,002
16 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
16 votes
2 answers
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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
16 votes
2 answers
882 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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
16 votes
1 answer
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, ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
15 votes
2 answers
915 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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
15 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
14 votes
5 answers
617 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 ...
Rin's Fourier transform's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
717 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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
14 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
13 votes
2 answers
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?
John Bupit's user avatar
  • 1,239
13 votes
1 answer
938 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 ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
13 votes
1 answer
349 views

Ernie and the disappointing drill bits

I was driving to Ernie's place a couple of days ago, with Ernie in the passenger seat, when we drove past an old building with a faded sign reading Lar's Tool's. Beneath it, scrawled on the front wall ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
13 votes
4 answers
3k 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 ...
DemonicBirdFlu's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
194k 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. ...
Wouter's user avatar
  • 1,388
12 votes
3 answers
615 views

Ernie and the Revisitation of the Aunts

I was hanging around at home last week, a little lost for something to do, when I got a phone call from Ernie. He was in a bit of a panic because a guest was going to drop in later in the day. He had ...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k
12 votes
2 answers
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.
Prem's user avatar
  • 5,160
12 votes
2 answers
813 views

The Mysterious Disappearance of Doctor F. Andrews [Part 1]

This is my first real puzzle, so I hope you enjoy it! Sorry if the writing is a little poor, etc.. You are the unstoppable Detective Joshua Brown, and no puzzle can stand in your way! The Case: ...
For I In Range's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
642 views

Ernie and the Chocolate Bomb

Last week when I visited Ernie he complained that his trousers had shrunk in the wash. I suggested an alternate possibility – he was putting on weight. So he decided to go on a diet and to support him,...
Penguino's user avatar
  • 14k