A cute puzzle:

You are given twelve 3″ x 9″ paper envelopes and sixty paperclips. Rearrange the material so that each envelope contains a distinct number of paperclips. It is not allowed to cut the paperclips or envelopes.

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5 Responses

  1. Hmmm… can I fold an envelope?

  2. Yes, one can fold an envelope.

  3. hint: one word: matroshka.

  4. That is what I had in mind when I asked about folding the envelopes.

    What I don’t like is the fact that now the problem has become too easy – in the sense that there are many solutions. I would have liked there to be just one solution…

    Oh well.

  5. A follow-up puzzle might be: how many different solutions are there? That seems a rather difficult (or at least tediously time-consuming) problem. Suppose we add a constraint that an envelope cannot hold more than one envelope inside it. Even then it is a rather non-trivial problem to count the number of different solutions.

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