Your problem is (fairly) well defined and the answer is a binary search. But the bicycle problem was, as Wayne pointed out, very poorly defined. It was barely even mathematical. I am at a loss as to why the author didn't shore it up so that it was a mathematical problem. When I pose a problem and someone notes my mistake, I usually reply "Ha, you're right. Ok so these are the new conditions." It is cases like this when you realize that there are two ideas of "mathematics" out there.
On Mar 7, 2013, at 10:22 AM, Joe Niederberger <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> This reminds me of the old problem of having twelve coins: 11 identical, and 1 counterfeit that is just a tad heavier or lighter than the rest. Determine in 3 weighings or less the identity of the counterfeit coin using only a pan balance (in the usual manner - no tricky stuff here, such as you can't tell any difference by the feel in your hands or biting etc.) > > Cheers, > Joe N