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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

How Would You Move Mount Fuji - William Poundstone

Finally, another book finished. It is not that I am illiterate, really, but lately I have been listening to podcasts every single free minute. I even fall asleep like that sometimes.

How Would You Move Mount Fuji book cover Anyway, this book is rather well written and gives some interesting insights into the Microsoft "puzzle" hiring interviews, revealing as well the highly competitive culture behind the system, as well as the most obvious flaws. One of the most famous such puzzles is in the very title of the book. The interviewer would ask one how would they move mount Fuji. The expected answer is a detailed analysis of the process and the more situations and data the candidate thinks of, the better. Of course, there are really stupid puzzles as well, used only to assess how the prospective employee reacts under stress. Others are deceptively simple, but hard to guess.

I will give you one. Please think about it as long as it takes to be CERTAIN the response is right. In fact, I won't even give you the answer. Here it goes:

You have four cards on the table. Each card has a digit on a side and a capital letter on the other. As placed on the table you see the cards like this:
4 G E 3


The request of the puzzle is this: what cards must be turned in order to verify that the four cards on the table verify the rule "Every card with a vowel has an even number on the other side". You need to give the exact cards not the number of cards and (of course) turn only the ones that you need, so as little card turning as possible.

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