The Power of the Pigeonhole

  • Martin Gardner

Abstract

Can you prove that a large number of people in the U.S. have exactly the same number of hairs on their head? And what does this question have in common with the following problem? In a bureau drawer there are 60 socks, all identical except for their color: 10 pairs are red, 10 are blue, and 10 are green. The socks are all mixed up in the drawer, and the room the bureau is in is totally dark. What is the smallest number of socks you must remove to be sure you have one matching pair?

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References

  1. The Pigeonhole Principle: “Three into Two Won’t Go.” Richard Walker in The Mathematical Gazette. Vol. 61, No. 415, pages 25–31; March 1977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Existence out of Chaos. Sherman K. Stein in Mathematical Plums: The Dolciani Mathematical Expositions. No. 4, edited by Ross Honsberger. The Mathematical Association of America, 1979.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Gardner

There are no affiliations available

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