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Impossible? by Julian Havil

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Chapter 6

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BUCKING THE ODDS

It is better to do the right problem the wrong way than to do the wrong problem the right way.

Richard Hamming

In this chapter we will consider two problems, each of which caused large-scale consternation and disbelief when they came to the attention of the public. The first had academic origins, the second was inspired by a popular American television show.

The Three-Hat Problem

We have already considered matters relating to red- and blue-hat wearers not knowing the colour of the hat each is wearing. Chapter 1 had a group of them sitting listening to the chiming of a clock, waiting for revelation. Here we will give ...

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