Archive for August 2008

Selection of weights to weigh a thing

August 8, 2008

(Extracted from Leino’s puzzle page)

You are given a balance (that is, a weighing machine with two trays) and a positive integer N. You are then to request a number of weights. You pick which denominations of weights you want and how many of each you want. After you receive the weights you requested, you are given a thing whose weight is an integer between 1 and N, inclusive. Using the balance and the weights you requested, you must now determine the exact weight of the thing.

As a function of N, how few weights can you get by requesting?