Friday, April 13, 2012

Four Men and Eight Hats

Problem: There are four men and eight hats (five black hats and three red hats). Each man will wear one hat, but he can't see which hat he is wearing, instead he can only see the hats the other three persons are wearing. Then each man is asked to guess which hat he is wearing (black or red?). The first man said he can't decide. The second man said he also can't decide. The third man, again, said he can't decide. Then it is the turn of the last man, can he or can't he make the right guess?

Solution: The key is to understand what "a man can't decide" exactly means. Let's name the four men, A, B, C, D. When A can't decide, it must be true that B, C, D are NOT all wearing red hats. Since there are only three red ones, if B, C, D are all wearing red hats, A can be sure that he is wearing a black hat. Let's use the same way to analyze B's situation. When B can't decide, it must be true that C, D are NOT both wearing red hats.  Then let's exam C.  When C can't decide, it must be true than D is NOT wearing a red hat. Then based on the all the information, D can be sure he is wearing a black hat.

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