Sunday, November 4, 2012

An abundance of solutions


My son started the Kindergarten this year. I try to be a good parent and work with him closely on his sight-words and handwriting. Today we were reviewing his weekly reader magazine, and I read to him the following question from the magazine.
There is only one pumpkin left at the pumpkin patch. Mingo and Zip both want the pumpkin. What should they do?
I guess the easy answer (maybe, the answer the magazine tries to teach) is that they share the pumpkin. But my son thought about a little bit, and said they should ask the farmer if the farmer has more pumpkins somewhere. I went along, and together we thought of several more solutions to the problem.

  • Mingo and Zip carve the pumpkin nicely, and sell the carved pumpkin at a good price at the bazaar and buy two pumpkins with that money.
  • They divide the pumpkin into half. For dividing fairly, you know the trick right. One of them gets to cut in two pieces, and the other gets to choose. (However, my wife argues this is not fair if the person to cut is clumsy and cannot manage to cut into equal pieces. Then the chooser has an obvious advantage.)
  • Mingo and Zip share the pumpkin in the time domain. Mingo displays it on the odd numbered days, Zip on the even-numbered. (I wonder if it is possible to share the pumpkin on the frequency domain or via code division.)
  • Mingo paints and displays the pumpkin on Halloween, then Zip gets the pumpkin and cooks it.
  • They do a coin toss about who gets the pumpkin.
  • Mingo pays Zip and gets the pumpkin.
  • They take the seeds of the pumpkin, sow the seeds, and next year they have many pumpkins each.
  • They both forgo the pumpkin, and present it to one of their mutual friends.
  • One of them gets up early and takes the pumpkin, the other gets a good life lesson.
  • They help each other and make a nice pumpkin pie together. They apply mapreduce to the problem, make a business out of it, and get rich. See mapreduce in simple terms about how.
OK, I didn't really try to discuss the mapreduce idea with my son. I am waiting a couple more years before we have the mapreduce and writing robust programs talk.

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