Food for thought

Question: Give at least 4 numbers in the range of 1 to 10.

Answer 1: 3, 5
Answer 2: 4, 5, 6, 20
Answer 3, 7, 7, 7, 7
Answer 4: 3, 4, 5, 6
Answer 5: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Answer 1 is incorrect, because there are less than 4 numbers.
Answer 2 is incorrect, because not all numbers are in the range of 1 to 10
Answer 3 is correct (the question does not specify that the numbers need to be unique)
Answer 4 is correct
Answer 5 is correct

But, is answer 4 ‘more correct’ than answer 3? And is answer 5 ‘more correct’ than answer 5?

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7 Responses to Food for thought

  1. reenigne says:

    Software developers will pick option 4 so that they don’t have to think about the edge cases or “lawyering” the requirements. Software testers will pick 3 or 5 specifically in order to test those same edge cases. It’s kind of like the Robustness principle.

    • MacOS9 says:

      I would assume that only answer four is correct, as specified by the syntax in the question: “give at least 4 numbers.” Response number three merely repeats one number four times – an amusing response but a lazy one too.

  2. t says:

    1 2 3 4 20 : correct? I’d say yes, you’d say no (cf your answer to 2). Depends on where you put parentheses in your question.

    • Scali says:

      Indeed, mathematically it is common to assume that you should only give answers that conform to the question, and nothing ‘extra’.
      But in everyday human life, such a question could be interpreted differently. People would be interested in obtaining 4 objects that meet their criteria, but if they get a whole box, with a lot of useless objects, but it still contains 4 or more of the objects they are looking for, that is fine.
      Although… If someone is looking for 4 working lightbulbs, and you give them a box of 100, and you say: “At least 4 of them work, but I don’t know which ones”, I don’t think they’d be very happy 🙂

  3. t says:

    Btw one could argue removing ‘at least’ wouldnt change the question. Tis all a matter of interpreting human language into strict computer like rules.

  4. Ravi Dhungel says:

    Very interesting . Let me formulate the problem in set theory or linear equation:
    Set Theory:
    {n1,n2,n3,n4}is a subset of {1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10}
    where n1={{1}.{2},{3},……….{10}} so absolutely 3,4,5 are correct.
    Linear Equation:
    F(x ,Y,z,a )>=4<=10 where F(x),F(y),F(z),F(a)=1….10 …doesn't make sense.
    I think formulating the algorithm is challenging than human interpretation. The human language semantics needs further scientific inquiries to map the logical concepts to language semantics.

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