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2005/04/23 Petals Around The Rose

Proof that Bill Gates isn't very smart - at least not at problem solving: http://www.borrett.id.au/computing/petals-bg.htm.

Aw, that's probably not fair. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I saw this on the fourth example. I'm curious as to how other folks do with this. Does anyone else reading this remember Martin Gardner's "Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions" ? I just loved that book when I was was young - I have a slightly dog-eared 1959 copy on my bookshelf and wouldn't part with it for anything. I wonder if Bill ever had one of those?

I'm not a big fan of recreational puzzles today - maybe because I do too much real problem solving and troubleshooting. Maybe that was Bill's problem back then: too busy building Microsoft to think clearly about the problem. Though of course his basic misunderstanding of the game's name didn't help. I wonder if there's any Freudian significance to what he thought the name was? That's another thing that I often wonder about: when people hear some phrase badly but translate it into something that obviously makes no sense ("Pedal around the Roses"), why don't they question their interpretation? Afraid of looking foolish? Afraid that an apparently nonsensical phrase actually does mean something to those "in the know"?

The answer to the game? No, I'm not going to give you the answer - though I will remind you that the name is important, and if you really think about it, even Bill's misinterpretation still should have given him the clue he needed. Please don't post an answer here, though - I'll just erase it if you do.



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Sat Apr 23 14:14:17 2005: 364   BigDumbDinosaur


Does anyone else reading this remember Martin Gardner's "Book of Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions" ? I just loved that book when I was was young - I have a slightly dog-eared 1959 copy on my bookshelf and wouldn't part with it for anything. I wonder if Bill ever had one of those?

Man, I sure remember that book. I used to pour through that thing for hours when I was in seventh and eight grade (around 1958), trying figure out stuff that sometimes was way over my head. Once in high school, my chosen curriculum gave me plenty of obtuse math problems on which to work and I stopped reading the book. My copy disappeared years ago, probably discarded after I (permanently) moved out of the house in the early 1960's and joined Uncle Sam's Navy.

I'm not a big fan of recreational puzzles today - maybe because I do too much real problem solving and troubleshooting.

Ditto here. One phone call from a certain inept client provides me with all the MRPSA (minimum recommended problem solving activity) needed to cover an entire week. <Smile>



Sun Apr 24 07:40:10 2005: 366   drag


I've always been horrible at mathmatical puzzles... Getting a bit discouraged on that is probably the reason why it took me a while to figure this one out. About 45 minutes or so. Around that. Probably be more fair to call it a hour, I guess.

Pretty nice little puzzle though. Glad I got it.



Thu May 19 20:05:21 2005: 551   anonymous




Removed by administrator.

I told you NOT to post the answer here. I'll just delete it..





Thu Aug 4 11:14:30 2005: 928   NPB


Bit unfair to say someone isn't smart if they take a while to get the answer... The puzzle really shows a distinction between rigid and creative thinking - whether one applies strict formulae to problem solving or not.

Often the people that take the longest to solve problems such as these are mathemeticians and computer programmers.



Thu Aug 4 14:30:14 2005: 929   BigDumbDinosaur


Often the people that take the longest to solve problems such as these are mathemeticians and computer programmers.

That make sense when you consider that programmers, mathematicians and scientists are indoctrinated in the art of careful consideration. Think the problem through before attempting to formulate a solution.



Thu Aug 4 19:18:56 2005: 930   TonyLawrence

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Well, first, I said it was unfair in the second paragraph.

People do have different approaches to problem solving. However, procedural approaches don't necessarily indicate intelligence. Learning a procedure might indicate nothing more than memory.

I'm not saying Bill Gates is stupid. It's easy to get stuck and keep looking in the wrong place with any kind of problem. It just amused me that he didn't see it.. but that's completely meaningless.






Sun Oct 16 21:22:51 2005: 1208   anonymous


you're all missing the point about bill gates. the punch line of that story was that he had misheard the name of the game, thus missing out on the obvious clue. did you even read the entire article?



Mon Oct 17 09:14:22 2005: 1210   TonyLawrence

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Actually, as I said originally, "pedals" or "petals" are similar clues - it's the word "around" that is the clue.

But I didn't see the meaning of the clue until after solving the puzzle, and I'm sure many other people did the same thing. Bill just got caught up in wrong approaches and couldn't break out of his pattern. The clue is unimportant.

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