Saturday, March 24, 2012

Read of the Month: March

"A hundred prisoners are each locked in a room with three pirates, one of whom will walk the plank in the morning. Each prisoner has 10 bottles of wine, one of which has been poisoned; and each pirate has 12 coins, one of which is counterfeit and weighs either more or less than a genuine coin. In the room is a single switch, which the prisoner may either leave as it is, or flip. Before being led into the rooms, the prisoners are all made to wear either a red hat or a blue hat; they can see all the other prisoners' hats, but not their own. Meanwhile, a six-digit prime number of monkeys multiply until their digits reverse, then all have to get across a river using a canoe that
can hold at most two monkeys at a time. But half the monkeys always lie and the other half always tell the truth. Given that the N-th prisoner knows that one of the monkeys doesn't know that a pirate doesn't know the product of two numbers between 1 and 100 without knowing that the N+1th prisoner has flipped the switch in his room or not after having determined which bottle of wine was poisoned and what color his hat is, what is the solution to this puzzle?"

There are many famous companies that are known for their tough interview questions. Apple, Microsoft, Google and many many more seek not only high IQ or excellent school grades. They need people, who are ready to change the world and know exactly how to do it. People, who are able to think creatively and find solutions to all given situations.
The riddle above is not an actual interview question. It is an internet parody of the seemingly impossible to answer questions, given at job interviews for world's top companies. However, the real puzzles sound pretty much the same.
"Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?" by William Poundstone is a wonderful collection of trick questions, riddles and puzzles. It doesn't teach correct answers. There aren't any. But it gives an idea of how to improve your creative thinking, how to step out of the box and look at things differently.
Here are a couple of questions you can think about, too:
- You've got an analog watch with a second hand. How many times a day do all three of the watch's hands overlap?
- On a deserted highway, the probability of observing a car during a thirty-minute period is 95%. What is the chance of observing a car in a ten-minute period?
- In a dark room, you're handed a deck of cards with N of the cards faceup and the rest facedown. You can't see the cards. How would you split the cards into two piles, with the same number of faceup cards in each pile?

A little bit confusing, aren't they? However, the book is a light read and is perfect to kill some time while riding the bus or underground. It is witty, funny, and most importantly - it makes you think.


  1. That question boggled my mind and made me feel pretty inadequate for a moment lool! But that seems like a really cool, fun book! I love brain teasers and things that challenge the way you think!


  2. It's interesting test)) I'll think about it in free time... and i want to work at google))

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