Real Mathematics – Graphs #7

Serkan’s System

Serkan the math teacher, hands out a specific number of problems to his students. Kids who can solve 1 or more of those problems would get a certain prize. At the beginning of each semester, Serkan and his students sit down and agree on what kind of prize is going to be distributed. For the current semester, oreo is chosen as the prize:

If Serkan the math teacher hands out 10 problems:

  • 10 Oreos for the kids who solved 10, 9 or 8 of those problems,
  • 5 Oreos for the kids who solved 7, 6 or 5 of those problems,
  • 2 Oreos for the kids who solved 4, 3 or 2 of those problems,
  • 1 oreo for the kids who solved 1 problem,
  • Absolutely nothing for the students who solved… well… none of those problems.

If you take a careful look at the numbers, you can see that Serkan the math teacher selected those numbers with a kind of logic: 10, 5, 2 and 1.

These are the natural numbers that can divide the number of the problems (that is 10) without any remainder.

Prize Distribution Machine (P.D.M.)

One month later…

Serkan the math teacher had faced some problems 4 weeks into the semester. He realized that it took hours to distribute the prizes since he has 10 classes in total.

Serkan the math teacher had to use almost all his free time in school to distribute the Oreos. This led him to think about a machine that would help him with the distribution:

  • P.D.M. will have 4 different compartments. (Because of 10, 5, 2 and 1.)
  • The volumes of those compartments will be measured with Oreos. They will be 10, 5, 2 and 1 Oreo-sized.
  • Oreos will enter the machine from the 10-Oreo-sized compartment. From there, Oreos will move to the other compartments using the connections that will be established.
  • Golden Rule: To establish a connection between any two compartments, the size of those compartments must be factors of one another.

Connections of the compartments for 10 problems:

  • For 10-Oreo-sized: 5, 2 and 1.
  • For 5-Oreo-sized: 10 and 1.
  • For 2-Oreo-sized: 10 and 1.
  • For 1-Oreo-sized: 10, 5, and 2.

Then, the sketch of the P.D.M. would look like the following:

Is this another graph?!

If you are familiar with graph theory (or if you read the graph section of the blog) you can recognize that the sketch of Serkan the math teacher’s machine is a planar graph:

You should connect the numbers (dots) using lines (connections) according to the golden rule.

One wonders…

What if Serkan the math teacher asks 12 problems?

For 12 problems, the numbers of prizes are going to be: 12, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1.

In such a situation, can Serkan build his machine? In other words; is it possible to connect the dots for 12-sized P.D.M.?

Hint: First, you should consider where the lines should be. Also, you can arrange the dots in any order you’d like.

M. Serkan Kalaycıoğlu

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