Sunday, 23 June 2013

Math in Tenali Ramalinga’s puzzle on elephants

          I came to know about this story through my friend. This is about a problem solved by the great Tenali Ramalinga. I always enjoy Ramalinga’s stories and this is one among those tales:

An old man had three sons. During his life time he acquired 17 elephants (Exactly do not remember whether they are elephants or horses. Let us consider elephants for example). He wrote a note which specifies how these elephants shall be distributed among his three sons after his death. The note says:
“Half of the elephants shall be given to the eldest son. Two third of the remaining shall be give to the second son.  Two third of the remaining shall be give to the third son.”  
Finally the day came and the elephants needed to be distributed among the sons according to the note. But how can it be done? How can we divide 17 elephants such that the eldest son gets half of the share?