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Treebeard's Stumper
21 March 2003

A Real Piece of Cake

We have our annual Dunn Middle School "Piece of Cake" bike ride today! Here's a stumper about that real piece of cake that one student carried along for a treat. It's an interesting cake with an odd shape and frosting and sprinkles and a single strawberry on top. Two bikers can always share it fairly using the ancient method that "one cuts, and the other chooses." Each will then have their fair share, or at least they'll only have themselves to blame. But there were three (maybe more) bikers eager to share this cake. Is there always a fair way to divide it so no one feels cheated?

Here's one way to divide a cake: chop it up into pieces and grab! There's
no math or method, and there's no guarantee that anyone thinks it's fair.

We were scheduled to have our annual DMS "Piece of Cake" bike ride today, but we postponed it for two weeks because of the wind. *Sigh* After strong winds all week that brought down many trees locally, Friday turned out to be the perfect day.

I meant to bring along a real piece of cake and get a photo of a few kids trying to divide it. That will have to wait. But imagine that slightly squished cake to realize that this is not the simple math problem of dividing a regular solid into thirds!

Answer


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Copyright © 2003 by Marc Kummel / mkummel@rain.org