Four people come to an old bridge in the middle of the night. The bridge is rickety and can only support 2 people at a time. The people have one flashlight, which needs to be held by any group crossing the bridge because of how dark it is.
Each person can cross the bridge at a different rate: one person takes 1 minute, one person takes 2 minutes, one takes 5 minutes, and the one person takes 10 minutes. If two people are crossing the bridge together, it will take both of them the time that it takes the slower person to cross.
Unfortunately, there are only 17 minutes worth of batteries left in the flashlight. How can the four travellers cross the bridge before time runs out?
The two keys here are:
You want the two slowest people to cross together to consolidate their slow crossing times.
You want to make sure the faster people are set up in order to bring the flashlight back quickly after the slow people cross.
So the order is:
1-minute and 2-minute cross (2 minute elapsed)
1-minute comes back (3 minutes elapsed)
5-minute and 10-minute cross (13 minutes elapsed)
2-minute comes back (15 minutes elapsed)
1-minute and 2-minute cross (17 minutes elapsed)