Laundry

A stunner from the Baltic Way:

A family wears clothes of three colours: red, blue and green, with a separate identical laundry bin for each colour. At the beginning of the first week, all the bins are empty. Each week, the family generates 10kg of laundry (the proportion of each colour might vary week to week). The laundry is sorted by colour and placed in the bins. Next, the heaviest bin (only one if there are several) is emptied and its contents washed.

What is the minimum requirement (in kg) of each bin?

The Vault: Robbers

Here I present one of my favourites; a problem of rare invention. From the 1998 Tournament of the Towns:

(Two-person case) Two robbers stole a bag of coins from a merchant. Each coin is worth an integer number of pennies. It is known that if any single coin is removed from the bag, then the remaining coins can be divided fairly among the two robbers (that is, they both get coins with the same total value in pennies).

Prove that after one coin is removed, the number of coins remaining is even.

(General case) A gang of robbers stole a bag of coins from a merchant. Each coin is worth an integer number of pennies. It is known that if any single coin is removed from the bag, then the remaining coins can be divided fairly among the robbers (that is, they all get coins with the same total value in pennies).

Prove that after one coin is removed, the number of coins remaining is divisible by the number of robbers.

The Vault: Powers of two

My new book of maths puzzles is on its way! It’s packed full of interesting problems to sink your teeth into. I’ll post an update as the launch approaches.

In the meantime, here is a fantastic problem from the USA:

It is given that $2^{2004}$ is a 604-digit number beginning with a 1. How many of the numbers $2^0, 2^1, 2^2, 2^3, ..., 2^{2003}$ begin with a 4?

The Vault: My favourite puzzle

Having spent nine days in Hamburg at a maths conference, I return to present what is to date my favourite ever maths problem. From the Tournament of the Towns:

Let n be a positive integer. Consider the largest odd factor of each of the numbers n+1, n+2, …, 2n. Prove that their sum is n2.

The Vault: A gem from Russia

Here I present my first entry into the Vault, a collection of puzzles so well crafted, they provide the standard by which all other problems should be measured.

From the 1992 Tournament of the Towns:

Let n be a positive integer. Prove that there is a multiple of n, the sum of whose digits is odd.