The Mathematical Intelligencer

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 53–61 | Cite as

One hundred prisoners and a lightbulb

Mathematical Entertainments


This column is a place for those bits of contagious mathematics that travel from person to person in the community, because they are so elegant, suprising, or appealing that one has an urge to pass them on.

Contributions are most welcome.


Mathematical Intelligencer Random Time Science Research Institute Pyramid Scheme Mathematical Science Research Institute 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. [1]
    Bertram Felgenhauer. 100 prisoners and a lightbulb. Newsgroup rec. puzzles, available through, July 28 2002.Google Scholar
  2. [2]
    William Feller.An introduction to probability theory and its applications. Vol. I, pages 46,59. Second edition. John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1968.Google Scholar
  3. [3]
    Mathematical Sciences Research Institute.Emissary newsletter, November 2002. Also available at emissary/.Google Scholar
  4. [4]
    Renata Kallosh and Andrei Linde. Dark energy and the fate of the universe. 2003. Scholar
  5. [5]
    “Oleg”. 100 prisoners and a lightbulb. Newsgroup rec.puzzles, available through, July 24 2002.Google Scholar
  6. [6]
    National Public Radio. Car Talk Radio Show. Transcription available at http:// 200306/index.htmlGoogle Scholar
  7. [7]
    IBM Research. Ponder This Challenge. wwwr_ponder.nsf/challenges/July2002.html, July 2002.Google Scholar
  8. [8]
    William Wu. Hard riddles, http://www.ocf. #100prisonersLightBulb, February 2002.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul-Olivier Dehaye
    • 1
  • Daniel Ford
    • 1
  • Henry Segerman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations