## Thursday, September 22, 2011

### How many belts and how many husbands?

Life is a puzzle. It so happens that every week at least one puzzle walks up into this blog. I may find it in the kitchen, my kids may bring it to me from school, a friend may challenge me at dinner; an old book, a stuffed closet, home renovation, news report - anything can inspire a puzzle. This week was busy and not so puzzle-fruitful. Up until I came to the master bedroom today, frustrated and tired, and discovered the following mess:

How many belts do you think there are and (bonus question) how many husbands these belts may belong to? Please explain your reasoning about the belts, do not just post a number.

Why is this math? Because you may use various logical strategies when answering. Because almost every computer science student have had to write an algorithm that will solve a similar problem automatically. Because it is applicable to anything from wire detection and removal in special effects to weapon detection in satellite imagery or chromosome count in genetic tests.

Answer ideas accepted any time until midnight on Saturday September 24th (EST), on our Family Puzzle Marathon. They will be hidden till then and everyone who submitted a valid solution will get a puzzle point.

Bean said...

Six belts. I counted buckles, or other indicators that I had found the head of the belt (there is a loop in the middle that would be near the hidden buckle). Not very math-y.

One husband, probably one who has experienced a significant change in weight over time. This is how it would work at our house. The husband would be tired of constantly reaching for a belt, only to grab one of the many that don't fit any more. Finally, one morning, he decides to solve this problem by removing all the belts he never wears and throwing them on the bed. This works, because when he throws things on the bed, as if by magic, they disappear and go where ever such things should go. He has no clue what magical fairy performs this work...

Donna said...

My guess is 7 belts, and hopefully you only have one husband. I counted the belts with buckles visible first, and then the ones that were different colors from the ones I already counted. I did this twice and got 7 both times....I could have miscounted, though, if you have a belt or two with buckle and end completely hidden, but I didn't think you would be that deceptive. :)

Tom said...

I see only four buckles, but pretty sure I see six "other ends" so my guess is six belts. A computer could be programmed to do some quick topological work and unscramble them, or label each one. I'm gonna stick with six.

All the belts are on the same bed, so my first guess is they all came from the same closet and belong to one male. We have NO information on his marital status. A good computer could probably also estimate the lengths of each belt, and notice if there was an outlier or two (extra long or shorter than the majority). If so, it might imply some additional men or boys, but gives no additional implication as to husbandry.

Tom said...

Ah, and Maria has also provided us with the fact that she herself found the mess in her master bedroom. That's another clue that PROBABLY all the belts belong one husband.

anne-marie said...

I have counted 7 and I guess you just have one husband and who needs more?:))
I should send a picture of my husband computer pieces and ask: how many computers..? Or to give a date on these pieces. It is just silly to me..

Ilya said...

I looked for the buckles, and also free ends as a double-check. Seems like there are six of each, so there are six belts there. As for the husbands, speaking from my own experience :-), I only wear two belts - one black and one brown depending on the rest of the clothes I have on. In this picture, I see four black and two brown belts. So these might be owned by between 2 and four husbands, depending on the reasons they might have to own more than one black belt.

Wang said...

I see 6 belt buckles so I think there are 6 belts. As for how many husbands these belts may belong to, since you were in your master bedroom, I think they all belong to your husband so 1.

6 belts

1 husband

Jerome said...

How Many Belts.
===============
I started out wondering about the number of buckels which I soon discovered was not adequate. My wife, who is non mathematical choose the same method. They are too small and could be hidden, so I went to position of the ends (left right top) but that too was unsatisfactory. I decided on color and got

5 black
1 dark brown
2 light brown which I'm sure is inccorrect, but I'll stick with it.

Who do they belong to?
=====================
Very interesting question. This cite likely does not even reach PG so I'm guessing at most 1. More than one would imply multiple husbands living under the same roof. Realistically Not possible, although logically perhaps.

The answer could also be zero. The belts could belong to children (older ones) or you if you like heavy duty belts for jeans -- although the Lindgerg belt could be a dress belt.

Lindberg is not a clue. Those are men's golf belts made in the United Kingdom. This one is made in Italy and it is not nearly of the quality of J Lindberg. Lindberg belts made in Italy could be either a man's or woman's belt.

SteveGoodman18 said...

I believe there are 7 belts and 1 husband. There is one medium-brown belt laying horizontally across the middle of the picture. There are 2 light-brown/beige belts whose buckles appear to be buried together in the center right of the picture, and one can see the ends of each of those belts. I was unsure at first if there were 3 or 4 black (or dark-brown) belts. I can see the ends of three such belts at the top of the picture, and I can easily see 3 buckles for those belts. However, I don't believe we can see the end of the belt whose buckle is furthest left in the photo. Otherwise that belt would be abnormally long. So, I'm going with 4 black belts and a totaly of 7.

Since these belts are all on the same bed, I'll assume there is only one husband who is the cause of this frustrating mess.

TracyZ said...

I believe there are 7 belts in the photograph.

There are 4 belt buckles shown in the picture representing 4 belts

I believe there are also three belts for which the viewer can only see the non-buckle end of each belt (with the buckle ends are hidden in the pile). These belts include the upper most black belt shown in the picture, the left most belt, and the light color belt which is the furthest to the right.

Together the 4 belts with buckles shown and the 3 belts without their buckles shown = 7 belts.

As for the question of how many husbands the belts belong to, that is a tough one. I think the answer is most likely to be 1 or 0. One of the black belts has a label shown which reads "Lindberg". According to a web search, Lindberg belts are made by Pascal Tanguay, a designer based in Montreal. Pascal Tanquay Inc. is a private company categorized as producing wholesale women and children's apparel. This suggests that the Lindberg belt is designed to be a woman's belt. This then suggests that perhaps all the other belts on the bed are also women's belts, and that therefore the correct answer to the question of "how many husbands the belts may belong to?" may be zero (they don't belong to any husbands).

Laura W said...

The easy part first. My guess is one husband, because husbands tend to take off belts in the house and most houses have only one resident husband, though there certainly are exceptions.

As for the number of belts. Belts have two relatively distinguishable ends - one with a buckle and the other with no buckle but usually with holes to hook the buckle into. Although there are only 4 distinguishable buckles, although the prong of an additional buckle may be partly visible, between the two parts of the orange/brown belt. There appear to be 6 distinguishable ends with either holes or no buckle. I will conclude with a guess that there are 6 belts, although there is something in the center of the picture that I can't really explain.

Color could be another distinguishing characteristic, but in this case, there appear to be at least 4 belts that are black on both sides. There is an orangish brown belt that has a darker side and a tan belt.

TracyZ said...

I realized that there was one obvious error is the explanation I wrote earlier, and wanted to correct it.

I still believe that there are 7 belts (and that they don't all belong to a husband... ), however, I erred in my earlier description of my counting of the belts.

There are the four belts with buckles shown.
There are three belts for which only the buckle-less ends are shown and the buckle portion is hidden from view. These belts include the dark belt the buckle-less end of which is the second from the top of the picture (not the top as I wrote earlier -- that belt is one of the ones for which the buckle is visible), the belt with the buckle-less end which is the left most in the picture, and the light-colored belt located farthest to the right.

4 + 3 = 7.

thelittlebird said...

I count 6 belts - looked for the number of buckles first and then confirmed with the number of belt ends. There could be 2 husbands...if my husband is an example, he is a one color belt kind of guy and there are 2 distinct color families here. But, I'm also thinking that there are 3 fairly new black belts and my husband is also a "don't buy a new one until the one I have is worn out" kind of guy. So, if each husband has a brownish and black belt, then there are 3 husbands involved in this belt scenario! I think I'll go with the 3 husband solution. Glad to be back after the craziness of back to school, soccer, cross country, and PTA has eased up a bit!

Maria said...

And the solution is: 7 belts and 1 husband.
Husband is mine, all belts are his.
I did share with him your suggestions for simplifying our lives with only one brown and one black belts, thoughts on authenticity of Lindgerg's belt and hints that some of the belts may be women's belts. However, I should admit that I own even more belts than that in wide range of colors and widths and love them all.

Buckle and end counting seems to be the most popular technique used here. However, you are right - some of the buckles are invisible and we can only infer that they are somewhere under as belt can't have two loose ends.
I used tracing technique to mark and count each of the belts. Click to view the image Traced Belts.

And here are belts unwrapped proving that there are 7 of them.

I think everyone who contributed deserves a puzzle point.

Maria said...

Sorry, the above link to belts unwrapped doesn't seem to work. The working link is: all 7 belts unwrapped.