Gateways To Joy
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Puzzles
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Set 4
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Ants in a Circle
Ants in a Circle
9 Nov 2012
Puzzle

Suppose n ants are placed on a circle with a diameter of one meter. Each ant location is chosen independently, uniformly at random. An ant chooses between clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, uniformly at random, and starts scampering along the circle. All ants move at the same speed: one meter per second. When two ants bump into each other, they reverse their direction of travel. One of the ants is named Alice. What is the probability that Alice returns to the same point as she started, one minute after the ants start their scampering?

Source

The Puzzle Toad at CMU.

Solution

Please see Solution (PDF).

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