Hat Trick

Hattrick summer2020dickinsonmagazine

by Associate Professor of Mathematics Jeffrey Forrester

Professor Maher’s logic class has 24 students, four of whom are in Dickinson’s hat societies—two in Wheel and Chain and two in Raven’s Claw. He borrows their hats, has the students close their eyes and places the hats on four new students. Three of these students are then seated in a row, one behind the other, all facing the front of the room. The fourth student is instructed to wait in the hallway with the door closed, out of sight.  

Professor Maher addresses the three students: 

“Open your eyes. Keep your gaze fixed to the front of the room, only viewing the student or students in front of you. One of you can be sure of the hat you are wearing.”

After a brief period of silence, one of the students answers correctly. Which student is it, and how do they know? 

Submit your answer to dsonmag@dickinson.edu by Sept. 21. All correct responses will be entered into a drawing, and five names will be randomly selected to receive a Dickinson College Bookstore gift card! The solution and prizewinner will be printed in the fall issue of Dickinson Magazine.

Associate Professor of Mathematics Jeffrey Forrester focuses on mathematical biology but loves to take time out for logic puzzles, statistical oddities and other brain teasers. He also provides puzzles for Dickinson’s monthly podcast, The Good.   

Read more from the summer 2020 issue of Dickinson Magazine


Published August 17, 2020