Pierrot's Puzzle

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Mensa Daily Puzzlers

For over 15 years Mensa Page-A-Day calendars have provided several puzzles a year for my programming pleasure.  Coding "solvers" is most fun, but many programs also allow user solving, convenient for "fill in the blanks" type.  Below are Amazon  links to the two most recent years.

Mensa 365 Puzzlers  Calendar 2017

Mensa 365 Puzzlers Calendar 2018

(Hint: If you can wait, current year calendars are usually on sale in January.)


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Problem Description

"The Pierrot  in the illustration is standing in a posture that represents the sign of multiplication.  He is indicating the peculiar fact that 15 multiplied by 93 produces exactly the same digits (1,395) differently arranged."  The challenge is to find all possible sets of 4 digits with the same property.   The four digits may be divided into two 2-digits numbers as in the illustration, or into a single number multiplied by a 3-digit number.  


Background & Techniques

This fallacy is puzzle #84 from the book "Amusements in Mathematics" by H. E. Dudeney, Dover Publications.   Pierrot is a French clown/mime apparently well known to Europeans, at least back in 1917 when the book was originally published.  In his original version it was specified that all of the digits be different; I have relaxed this restriction which adds 3 solutions to the 6 that Dudeney found.     Dudeney did not consider zeros at all - allowing zeros among the digits, but not counting leading zeros in the product adds 6 more solutions.  Add finally allowing leading zeros in the product adds two more.

This program is mainly a programming exercise  since there is not much user interaction.  Clicking the Search button will list all 17 solutions.   Really not very useful unless you can find someone to bet that there are not 17 solutions and you need to show them in order to collect.  

The program has about 75 lines of user code.  Here are a couple of things that I learned (or maybe relearned) in the process of coding this program.   

A new function,  SameDigits returns true if two passed integers have the same digits  (not necessarily in the same order).  It optionally considers leading zeros in making the comparison.  I may have written a similar routine before, but one of the advantages of growing older is that we get to do lots of things over and over for the first time. 

It took a while to figure out how to display leading zeros for the outputs.  The trick is to use the "precision" specifier (the number after the decimal point) in a %d format string.  For example,  Format('%6.4d',[N]); will return integer N  right justified  into a 6 byte string and left padded with zeros out to 4 bytes.  So 12 would display as   0012 preceded by two blanks.

  Running/Exploring the Program 

bulletBrowse source extract
bullet Download source
bulletDownload  executable

Suggestions for Further Explorations

There are dozens, maybe hundreds,  of good computer program candidates in Dudeney's book.  It impresses me that he could invent, and solve so many without a computer to help!

Original Date: October 5,  2002

Modified: May 15, 2018


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