Puzzles: Set 4
Set 1
Set 2
Set 3
Set 4
Set 5
Set 6
Set 7
Set 8
Ants in a Circle

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?
Solution
Fifteen Sum

Alice and Bob take turns to pick numbers from 1 thru 9, without replacement. The first to possess three distinct numbers that sum to 15 wins. Does Alice have a winning strategy?
Solution
Four Ships

Four ships are sailing on a 2D planet. Each ships traverses a straight line at constant speed. No two ships are traveling parallel to each other. Their journeys started at some time in the distant past. Sometimes, a pair of ships collides. A ship continues its journey even after a collision. However, it is strong enough only to survive two collisions; it dies when it collides a third time. The situation is grim. Five of six possible collisions have already taken place (no collision involved more than 2 ships) and two ships are out of commission. What fate awaits the remaining two?
Solution
Cap Colors

An evil troll once captured a bunch of gnomes and told them, "Tomorrow, I will make you stand in a file, ordered by height such that a gnome can see exactly those gnomes that are shorter than him. I will place either a red cap or a blue cap on each head. Then, starting from the tallest, each gnome has to declare aloud what he thinks the color of his own cap is. In the end, those who were correct will be spared; others will be eaten, silently." The gnomes set thinking and came up with a strategy. How many of them survived?
Solution
f(f(x)) = -x

Is it possible to write a function int f(int x) in C that satisfies f(f(x)) == -x? Without globals and static variables, of course.
Solution
Card Shuffling

A perfect in-shuffle of a deck of 52 cards is defined as follows. The deck is cut in half followed by interleaving of the two piles. So if the cards were labeled 0, 1, 2, ..., 51, the new sequence is 0, 26, 1, 27, 2, 28, ... With repeated in-shuffles, shall we ever get back the original order? In how many iterations?
Solution
Coconut Spelling

(a) Two monkeys are typing capital letters (A-Z) randomly. The first stops typing when the word COCONUT appears as seven successive letters. The second stops typing when TUNOCOC appears; TUNOCOC is simply COCONUT spelt backwards. Which monkey is expected to type more?

(b) A monkey is typing capital letters (A-Z) randomly. Two squirrels observe the sequence of letters thus generated. The first squirrel wins if COCONUT appears (as seven successive letters) before TUNOCOC. The second squirrel appears if TUNOCOC appears before COCONUT. Which squirrel is more likely to win?

Solution
Average Salary

Four honest and hard-working computer engineers are sipping coffee at Starbucks. They wish to compute their average salary. However, nobody is willing to reveal an iota of information about his/her own salary to anybody else. How do they do it?
Solution