Hmm.. is it Math or ethics?

To me, mathematics has always been logical and structured way of thinking. One puzzle made me feel there is an ethical angle to it as well 🙂 Sharing it with all of you!

Three friends (Eric, Matt and George) decided to travel together on a 4 day trip. They agreed upon a date and decided to bring food for the trip. As agreed, the group of friends met as scheduled and start their journey. They decided to bring tortillas (circular flatbread / rotis) for the trip. Every day, they ate a few tortillas they brought with them, and packed the rest before continuing their travel.

On the 4th day morning George realized that he did not have any more food left with him. Eric still had 5 tortillas with him and Matt had 3 tortillas left. Both Eric and Matt were willing to share their food with George. They divide each tortilla (roti) into 3 pieces.

So, Eric had 5 tortillas. So, 5 * 3 = 15 pieces

And, Matt had 3 tortillas. So, 3 * 3 = 9 pieces

They pool it together making it 24 pieces and share it equally amongst themselves. Each of them get 8 pieces to eat that day.

They complete their travel the next day and as a parting gift for their kindness, George gives them 8 silver coins. Now, how should they divide it amongst themselves?

One of them said Eric should get 5 and Matt should get 3

Another said they both shared, so the coins should be divided equally

They go to the local court and the judge listens to the story and says Eric should get 7 and Matt should get 1 silver coin each.

After listening to the judge, everyone feels this is the right way (ethical way) and divide the coins appropriately and leave.

How did the judge come up with the ratio of 7:1?

Think about what your answer would be before reading the judge’s rationale below…

When Eric and Matt shared their tortilla pieces (24), everyone got to eat 8 pieces.

So, of the 15 pieces Eric had, he ate 8 pieces himself and shared 7 pieces with George.

And, of the 9 pieces Matt had, he ate 8 pieces himself and shared only 1 piece with George.

The judge had evaluated how much one had shared and distributed the silver coins based on the same.

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