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Tower of Hanoi Problem

Date: 3 Jan 1995 02:52:01 -0500
From: Marie Holl
Subject: Re: Ask Dr. Math: on-line math problems

Hi!  Thanks for answering my question.  I shared your solution with 
my students.  I made a copy of your solution and message on 
transparencies  and the kids were able to see the message.  Thanks 

I have another question for you.  Do you know the origin of the 
Tower of Hanoi problem?  I gave my class the legend and as a project , 
with the aid of many towers we discovered the patterns for the tower 
and  when the world would end according to the legend.  I was just 
wondering  and so was my class where and when the legend originated.  

I assigned this as extra credit.  We had a lot of fun with this and 
a lot of math evolved from the project.

Marie Holl

Date: 5 Jan 1995 13:12:30 -0500
From: Dr. Sydney
Subject: Re: Ask Dr. Math: on-line math problems

Dear Marie, 

        Hello again!  I am glad you wrote back again.  While we haven't yet
had time to research your problem, we will hopefully get to it soon.  I just
wanted to let you know we hadn't forgotten about you, and we will write 
back to you as soon as possible.  I'm glad you've been having so much 
fun with these math projects.  That's great!  We'll write you soon.


Date: 5 Jan 1995 15:48:41 -0500
From: Anonymous
Newsgroups: local.dr-math
Subject: Re: Ask Dr. Math: on-line math problems

Dear Marie,

   A computer version of the Towers of Hanoi written for Macintosh 
Computers at Forest Lake Senior High in Forest Lake Minnesota 
explains that:

"The familiar tower of Hanoi was invented by the French Mathematician 
Eduard Lucas and sold as a toy in 1883.  It originally bore the name of 
'Prof. Claus' of the college of 'Li-Sou-Stian,' but these were soon 
discovered to be anagrams for 'Prof. Lucas', of the College of 
'Saint Louis'.

   The original description of the toy called it a simplified version of a
mythical 'Tower of Brahma' in a temple in the Indian city of Benares.  
This tower, the description read, consists of 64 disks of gold, now in the
process of being transferred by the temple priests.  Before they complete
their task, it was said, the temple will crumple into dust, and the world
will vanish in a clap of thunder.  The disappearance of the world may be
questioned, but there is little doubt about the crumbling of the temple.

...Assuming the priests worked night and day, moving one disk every 
second, it would take them many thousands of millions of years to finish 
the job."

The programmers at Forest Lake Senior High cite the book "Mathematicl 
Puzzles and Diversions", by Martin Gardner, as their source.  

Is this the same answer your class got for how long it would take to finish?
This all sounds like a terrific project.

                               Elizabeth, a math doctor
Associated Topics:
High School History/Biography

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