Archive for the ‘Puzzles’ Category

Technical interview questions

January 11, 2007 1 comment

The techInterview site is an interesting site containing puzzles and interview questions.  Here’s a question from that site.

Yarr Maties

Five pirates discover a chest full of 100 gold coins. The pirates are ranked by their years of service, Pirate 5 having five years of service, Pirate 4 four years, and so on down to Pirate 1 with only one year of deck scrubbing under his belt. To divide up the loot, they agree on the following:

The most senior pirate will propose a distribution of the booty. All pirates will then vote, including the most senior pirate, and if at least 50% of the pirates on board accept the proposal, the gold is divided as proposed. If not, the most senior pirate is forced to walk the plank and sink to Davy Jones’ locker. Then the process starts over with the next most senior pirate until a plan is approved.

These pirates are not your ordinary swashbucklers. Besides their democratic leanings, they are also perfectly rational and know exactly how the others will vote in every situation. Emotions play no part in their decisions. Their preference is first to remain alive, and next to get as much gold as possible and finally, if given a choice between otherwise equal outcomes, to have fewer pirates on the boat.

The most senior pirate thinks for a moment and then proposes a plan that maximizes his gold, and which he knows the others will accept. How does he divide up the coins? What plan would the most senior pirate propose on a boat full of 15 pirates?

Read the solution

If you like this puzzle, go and visit the techInterview site.  But don’t let it affect your work. 🙂

Categories: Puzzles