Einstein’s Puzzle

February 11, 2007

Passion for Puzzles recently had an article about Eintein’s Puzzle, sometimes known as the Zebra Puzzle (for reasons that will become clear shortly.)  The puzzle is generally said to have been written by Einstein as a boy, though there’s no evidence for this.  It’s also claimed that only 2 percent of the population can solve the puzzle.  Presumably there’s no evidence to back up that claim either.  The original puzzle can be found at the wikipedia page above.  It’s a standard logic puzzle.  We are given a series of assertions about a group of 5 men and their various unshared attributes and are asked at the end: “Who owns the zebra?”  (Hence the name Zebra Puzzle.)

Einstein PuzzlePassion for Puzzles brings this up in reference to an open source puzzle game called Einstein’s Puzzle which can be found here.  The software doesn’t pose Einstein’s Puzzle exactly, but something very similar.  In the puzzle game we are presented with 6 rows to be filled in by 6 symbols of different type.  (i.e. One row will be filled by the Arabic numerals 1 to 6.  Another the letters A to F.  Another the Roman numerals I to VI. etc.)  We are also given a set of assertions as to where these symbols lie.  The charm of the original Einstein Puzzle is gone.  We are no longer asked to imagine five men of diverse nationalities living side by side in rainbow colored houses, smoking and drinking, and keeping exotic pets.  However, all of the puzzle difficulty is still there.  It’s also fun because there is a new puzzle every time you play.

The software is available for Windows and Mac.  The source is also available for those who wish to compile it for Unix-like systems.  And it’s released under the GPL.  It’s worth checking out.

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