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10 Dots, 10 Coins

If you have 10 dots on the ground, can you always cover them with 10 pennies without the coins overlapping?

Assume the dots lie in a plane and the radius of a penny is 1. Make an infinite grid of circles with radii 1, as shown on the picture, and place it randomly in the plane.

If we choose any point in the plane, the probability that it will end up inside some circle of the grid is equal to S(C)/S(H), where S(C) is the area of a coin and S(H) is the area of a regular hexagon circumscribed around it. A simple calculation shows that this ratio is larger than 90%. Therefore, the probability that some chosen point in the plane will not end up inside any circle is less than 10%. If we have 10 points, the probability that neither of them will end up inside a circle is less than 100%. Therefore, we can place the grid in the plane in such a way that every dot ends up in some circle. Now, just place the given coins where these circles are.

Source:

The Mathematical Intelligencer, 34:3 [September 2012], 11-14

Naoki Inaba is a prolific Japanese puzzle author of over 400 original logic puzzles. His puzzles have been featured in both "The New York Times" and "The Guardian".

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