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4 unknown coins - another weighing puzzle


Best Answer CaptainEd, 27 November 2012 - 11:49 PM

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14 replies to this topic

#11 phil1882

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 06:28 PM

hmm. i only get 47 total cases. there are 4! = 24 cases where all coins are a different weight, 12 cases where 2 coins are equal, 6 cases where 2 pairs are equal, 4 cases where 3 are equal, and 1 case where all coins are equal. am i missing something?
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#12 phil1882

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 07:00 PM

edit nm i got it. i was only thinking of the heaviest being equal but any of the three positions can be equal.
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#13 CaptainEd

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 08:11 PM

Aye, Captain. You can interpret it that way. I put this condition there to exclude the possibility of one coin weighing as much as 2 others.

I think I see it more clearly now--any number of coins always weighs strictly more than a smaller number of coins.
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#14 phil1882

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:30 PM

i tend to agree with curr3nts assessment. no way to get a guaranteed solve in 4. best i can do with 4...
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Edited by phil1882, 28 November 2012 - 09:31 PM.

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#15 Prime

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Posted 22 December 2012 - 04:06 AM

This is Sort problem. Computer scientists have been tackling this very puzzle for the past 60 years or so, producing a great variety of algorithms.

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What you have suggested here seems like “Tree Sort” with self-balancing binary tree. The "worst case" order for such algorithm is O(n log n). That's as fast as it gets. Or, at least, that’s the present day theory.


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Past prime, actually.





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