Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gears for Symbian S60v5 handsets: Puzzles on the go

Fanatics of puzzle games might often miss their dose of good puzzles when they are on the move. At such times, having a fun game in your mobile can be pretty handy. If you have a Symbian S60v5 OS on your mobile, we have just the right suggestion for you!

Check out Gears, a recently released game for the Symbian platform. The goal is simple: to arrange the cogs such that they are all connected to one another properly. You will start out with two or more cogs already placed on screen. There’s one yellow cog that is spinning and one or more blue ones that aren’t. you are given a limited number of cogs of different shapes and sizes. Placing them right to get the blue cogs spinning would have been difficult enough without the restriction on the number of cogs, but with the restriction in place it becomes all the more interesting.

You will find yourself spending more and more time with the game, as new elements are introduced to increase the difficulty level. Gears for Symbian brings a refreshing new take on puzzle games for mobile devices.

So, if you are a fan of puzzle games, and we are sure you are, go get Gears on your Symbian handset!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Monty Hall problem and its solution/explanation

In this article we’d like to concentrate on a different kind of puzzles : paradoxes! Specifically the Monty Hall problem. It is one that has intrigued mathematicians and common men alike for ages.

Those who have watched the movie 21 might have been baffled by the classroom scene where the professor presents to the students the Monty Hall Problem. It is paradoxical because the answer is not intuitive. The problem statement is thus:

Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?

One important point to note here is that the host knows what is behind the doors. This will ultimately affect the answer. Many people, including some with PhDs, instinctively say that once a door is opened, the probability of the car being behind either door is 1/2. In reality, however, the probability of the car being behind the door you did not initially choose is 2/3. This means that switching your initial choice increases your chances of winning!

Most people go into an argumentative mode when they hear this answer. However, there is a mathematical proof supporting this answer. Since the mathematical proof is too long for this article, we will see the logical proof which is just as convincing.

The simplest way to look at this problem is to divide the three doors into only two parts. Thus, the door you choose is one object and the other two doors group together to form another object. The probability of the door you chose hiding the car is 1/3, while the probability of the car being behind one of the other two doors is a combined 2/3. When the host reveals a goat, he is effectively eliminating one of the doors from the group you did not choose, making the probability of that door hiding the car 0. So now, the entire 2/3 probability of the other group hiding the car is transferred to the unopened door.

When the host offers you a choice to switch doors, what he is effectively saying is “you can keep the one door you have, or you can take both the other doors.” Clearly, taking two doors is always more beneficial than choosing one!

So the next time you are on a game show and the host asks you such a question, you know what to do. And if you never end up in any game show, at least you can baffle your friends with this knowledge of the Monty Hall problem.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Party Puzzles

You have thrown a party, all your friends have crowded your living room, the music is on at full blast and everyone is having a gala time. Suddenly, the music stops and the room becomes silent. The “entertainment” you had for your friends is no long there. What do you do now?

As it turns out, almost everyone likes to be entertained by a good puzzle, or quiz. And with no other way to entertain your friends, turning to the right kind of puzzles/quizzes could a great way to liven up the evening. Be careful to choose something that doesn’t require a high IQ, yet something that they probably haven’t heard before.

You can pick up intriguing party puzzles from almost anywhere. Questions can be related to incidents that happened, or funny stuff that never did. You may also give them problems, the solutions of which can be achieved by logical deductions.

The best party puzzles will be the ones that involve them doing something. Ask someone, for example, to put his/her entire body through a business card. Or to put an egg into a bottle the mouth of which is smaller than the egg’s widest point (without damaging the bottle, of course). A simple search for terms like party puzzles will throw up a host of possibilities you can use to entertain your friends at the next get together. And you can be assured that if you pull of the first few tricks well, they will keep coming back for more!