## Archive for December 5, 2011

### Results for My Favorite Game

Thanks to everyone who participated in the online version of my favorite game. Thanks, especially, to those people who helped to share it via Twitter, Facebook, and other blogs.

Though I am posting the results today, **I will continue to leave the form online**. Though I had only planned to let the contest last one week, entries continue to roll in, and I see no reason to forbid people from playing. From time to time, I’ll update this page… such updates will occur at the intersection of two events: when enough entries warrant an update, and when the muse hits me.

Without further adieu, here are the results.

With 1,042 entries divided into groups of 100, there were 10 complete games played. The charts below show the results for each game. (Sorry if they’re a little hard to read. Click on the images to view them full-size in a separate window. There are two images below — games 1-5 are shown in the top image, and games 6-10 are shown in the bottom image.)

The graphs above do not reflect all 100 entries for each game. In each game, many numbers greater than 35 were chosen. However, 84.1% of all selected entries were 35 or less.

The winning numbers, respectively, were **3, 3, 20, 4, 7, 2, 16, 4, 4, 2**.

If you’re interested in the raw data, download this Excel spreadsheet.

Congratulations to **Loïc Grobol** of Chécy, France! Loïc was the winner of the 4th game, and his name was randomly selected as the overall winner of the signed copy of *Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks* and the specially-designed, one-of-a-kind random number generator. (There is beautiful symmetry that Loïc chose the number 4, that he was the winner of the 4th game, and that the prize has a 4 in the title.)

As shown in the graphs above:

- On average, the number 1 was chosen by 10.4% of entrants. (Edward Early of St. Edward’s College said, “I use that [game] as a bonus question on a test in every class I teach. I believe 1 has never been the winning number, even in a class with only 6 students.” I have played this game over 100 times with various size groups. In my experience, the number 1 has only won twice… by the same woman, who — in a show of incredible bravado — chose the number in consecutive rounds of the game.)
- The number 2 won twice, but it was chosen rather infrequently — less than 1/3 as often as 1. My suspicion is that people figure if you’re gonna go big, go REALLY big… why choose 2 when you can choose 1?
- Besides 1, the number most often chosen was 17, which was selected 5.5% of the time. This seems to corroborate numerous studies that found 17 to be the most commonly selected random number.
- The number 151 was the greatest number chosen more than once.

The chart below shows the frequency of the top nine guesses.

Among the most interesting entries were 666, 1012, 1337, 53,479, and 3,010,994.

The most amusing entry was 10, with the accompanying note, “I’ll choose the base later.”

And you may be wondering… if all 1,000 entries were considered as just one game, what number would have won? That distinction would have gone to 32.

By running this contest, I learned about two interesting uses of this game in classrooms.

Edward Early said that he uses the following version as a bonus question.

Write a positive integer in the blank: _______

How this will be graded: The least positive integer that is submitted by exactly one person will be worth 5 points. The next-smallest will be worth 4 points, and the next-smallest after that will be worth 3 points. All other positive integers submitted by exactly one person will be worth 2 points. Positive integers submitted by more than one person will be worth 1 point. Anything other than a positive integer will receive no credit. Do not ask me to explain this question.

Not surprisingly, with these modifications comes a change in strategy — Edward said that some students choose a large random number, just to ensure they receive 2 points.

Matt Skoss of Possum Educational Services and the Northern Territory Dept of Education and Training said that he’s used this game for years with his kids at school.

Pick the lowest prime number, composite number, surd, cube number or triangular number, etc., depending upon what I’d like the kids to think about.

What an excellent use of a simple game!

### Werner, A Man Loved by Airlines

Know what this is?

**BEHIHIHIHIHIHIRG**

(Answer at bottom of post.)

I am not certain that the preceding or following jokes are funny. I am certain, however, that today is Werner Heisenberg‘s birthday. If you’re not familiar with his work, you might want to read about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle before continuing. Not that it’ll make the following jokes any funnier — in fact, if you require an explanation of the content prior to reading these jokes, well, that will almost surely guarantee that you *will not* find them funny — but perhaps you’ll feel a little smarter. (A more technical description of the principle can be found here.)

Why was Heisenberg’s wife unsatisfied?

When he had the time, he didn’t have the energy; and when he had the position, he didn’t have the momentum.

Heisenberg was out for a drive when a traffic cop stopped him. The cop says, “Do you know how fast you were going?”

Heisenberg replies, “No, but I know where I am.”

Werner Heisenberg, Kurt Gödel and Noam Chomsky walk into a bar.

Heisenberg looks around the bar and says, “Because there are three of us and because this is a bar, it must be a joke. But the question remains, is it funny or not?”

Gödel thinks for a moment and says, “Well, because we’re inside the joke, we can’t tell whether it’s funny or not. We’d have to be outside looking in.”

Chomsky looks at both of them and says, “Of course, it’s funny. You’re just telling it wrong.”

Hmm… maybe I should have shared some information about Gödel and Chomsky, too.

**Riddle Answer:*** Heisenberg* (HI’s in BERG)