A king has 100 identical servants, each with a different rank between 1 and 100. At the end of each day, each servant comes into the king's quarters, one-by-one, in a random order, and announces his rank to let the king know that he is done working for the day. For example, servant 14 comes in and says "Servant 14, reporting in."
One day, the king's aide comes in and tells the king that one of the servants is missing, though he isn't sure which one.
Before the other servants begin reporting in for the night, the king asks for a piece of paper to write on to help him figure out which servant is missing. Unfortunately, all that's available is a very small piece that can only hold one number at a time. The king is free to erase what he writes and write something new as many times as he likes, but he can only have one number written down at a time.
The king's memory is bad and he won't be able to remember all the exact numbers as the servants report in, so he must use the paper to help him.
How can he use the paper such that once the final servant has reported in, he'll know exactly which servant is missing?
When the first servant comes in, the king should write down his number. For each other servant that reports in, the king should add that servant's number to the current number written on the paper, and then write this new number on the paper.
Once the final servant has reported in, the number on the paper should equal
(1 + 2 + 3 + ... + 99 + 100) - MissingServantsNumber
Since (1 + 2 + 3 + ... + 99 + 100) = 5050, we can rephrase this to say that the number on the paper should equal
5050 - MissingServantsNumber
So to figure out the missing servant's number, the king simply needs to subtract the number written on his paper from 5050:
MissingServantsNumber = 5050 - NumberWrittenOnThePaper
A man comes to a small hotel where he wishes to stay for 7 nights. He reaches into his pockets and realizes that he has no money, and the only item he has to offer is a gold chain, which consists of 7 rings connected in a row (not in a loop).
The hotel proprietor tells the man that it will cost 1 ring per night, which will add up to all 7 rings for the 7 nights.
"Ok," the man says. "I'll give you all 7 rings right now to pre-pay for my stay."
"No," the proprietor says. "I don't like to be in other people's debt, so I cannot accept all the rings up front."
"Alright," the man responds. "I'll wait until after the seventh night, and then give you all of the rings."
"No," the proprietor says again. "I don't like to ever be owed anything. You'll need to make sure you've paid me the exact correct amount after each night."
The man thinks for a minute, and then says "I'll just cut each of my rings off of the chain, and then give you one each night."
"I do not want cut rings," the proprietor says. "However, I'm willing to let you cut one of the rings if you must."
The man thinks for a few minutes and then figures out a way to abide by the proprietor's rules and stay the 7 nights in the hotel. What is his plan?
The man cuts the ring that is third away from the end of the chain. This leaves him with 3 smaller chains of length 1, 2, and 4. Then, he gives rings to the proprietor as follows:
After night 1, give the proprietor the single ring
After night 2, take the single ring back and give the proprietor the 2-ring chain
After night 3, give the proprietor the single ring, totalling 3 rings with the proprietor
After night 4, take back the single ring and the 2-ring chain, and give the proprietor the 4-ring chain
After night 5, give the proprietor the single ring, totalling 5 rings with the proprietor
After night 6, take back the single ring and give the proprietor the 2-ring chain, totalling 6 rings with the proprietor
After night 7, give the proprietor the single ring, totalling 7 rings with the proprietor
General Custer is surrounded by Indians and he's the only cowboy left.
He finds an old lamp in front of him and rubs it. Out pops a genie. The genie grants Custer one wish, with a catch. He says, "Whatever you wish for, each Indian will get two of the same thing." Custer ponders a while and thinks:"If I get a bow and arrow they get two. If I get a rifle they get two!" He then rubs the bottle again and out pops the genie. "Well," the genie asks "have you made up your mind?"
What did Custer ask for to help him get away?