Miles From Fenway

Puzzle Answer
May 12, 2005, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ok, so here it is.

The original question was:

What would the the next number in the following sequence:

4 5 6 3 4 5 2 3 4 5 6

Now, I posed this question because a student wrote into us about this very question. In one of our textbooks we use this problem as an example of crystaline intelligence (if anyone REALLY wants a definition, let me know, but I doubt it).

The thing is, in the book, we state the answer as 1.

The correct answer is yet to be determined.

What? You ask. You people write textbooks, these things are supposed to be right!

My response to that would have to be: Oh how little you know about publishing! Yes, these books are written by PhDs (for the most part) yes, they are fact checked and copyedited to death. Yes this book has been in circulation for a year and no one has said anything (which means professors have either skipped that section or simply not cared). The thing is, a book hits SO many hands … literally thousands before it hits the bookshelf, that this error could have originated anywhere. The author, the typesetter, the production staff. Anywhere.

But then it gets more complicated. This book is in it’s 6th edition. Which means that it’s approximately 18 years old as it’s on a three year revision cycle. The member of the author team who originated the sequence is no longer a member of the team.

So we figure, ok, well other parts of our company do math texts, lets send it to them. Clearly they will know better than a psychologist.

Problem was none of them agree.

So as we stand now the answer is either 3, or 7.

See if you can come up with a reason for seven to be the answer. This is making smoke come out of my ears, you all might as well join me.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Didn’t I should you this yesterday?

4,5,6 3,4,5 2,3,4 5,6,7

That’s the case for 7, but 3 also works per Macca’s explanation in a previous post.

What’s the context of the puzzle? Would it make sense to include both answers?

Comment by BlackJack

Hey ass, you know there ARE other people who read this blog 🙂

Ok, not really, but come on let me dream! I was trying to pretend other people might want to figure it out!

Love from Chicago,

Comment by FINY

It’s seven. The only repeating pattern in the series is of separate three-number sequences:

4 5 6
3 4 5
2 3 4
5 6 _

Other patterns appear (my best guess) to be illusory and/or simply restate the three-number sequence pattern identified above (e.g., since the first sequence starts with 4, then the next starts with 3, then 2, it looks like you could identify a pattern where each number in the sequence was one smaller than the number three spots before it). But those restated patterns don’t hold true after the 2-3-4 sequence, because the next sequence doesn’t begin with a 1.

Comment by Jack Roy

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