The Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever is a logic puzzle invented by American philosopher and logician George Boolos and published in The Harvard Review of Philosophy in 1996. A translation in Italian was published earlier in the newspaper La Repubblica, under the title L'indovinello più difficile del mondo. The puzzle is inspired by Raymond Smullyan.
It is stated as follows:Three gods A, B, and C are called, in no particular order, True, False, and Random. True always speaks truly, False always speaks falsely, but whether Random speaks truly or falsely is a completely random matter. Your task is to determine the identities of A, B, and C by asking three yes-no questions; each question must be put to exactly one god. The gods understand English, but will answer all questions in their own language, in which the words for yes and no are da and ja, in some order. You do not know which word means which.
Boolos provides the following clarifications:
- It could be that some god gets asked more than one question (and hence that some god is not asked any question at all).
- What the second question is, and to which god it is put, may depend on the answer to the first question. (And of course similarly for the third question.)
- Whether Random speaks truly or not should be thought of as depending on the flip of a coin hidden in his brain: if the coin comes down heads, he speaks truly; if tails, falsely.
Famous quotes containing the words puzzle, hardest and/or logic:
“What are you now? If we could touch one another,
if these our separate entities could come to grips,
clenched like a Chinese puzzle . . . yesterday
I stood in a crowded street that was live with people,
and no one spoke a word, and the morning shone.
Everyone silent, moving. . . . Take my hand. Speak to me.”
—Muriel Rukeyser (19131980)
“People think that if a man has undergone any hardship, he should have a reward; but for my part, if I have done the hardest possible days work, and then come to sit down in a corner and eat my supper comfortablywhy, then I dont think I deserve any reward for my hard days workfor am I not now at peace? Is not my supper good?”
—Herman Melville (18191891)
“What avail all your scholarly accomplishments and learning, compared with wisdom and manhood? To omit his other behavior, see what a work this comparatively unread and unlettered man wrote within six weeks. Where is our professor of belles-lettres, or of logic and rhetoric, who can write so well?”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)