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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Buying Books

Two friends, Alex and Bob, go to a bookshop, together with their sons Peter and Tim. All four of them buy some books; each book costs a whole amount in shillings. When they leave the bookshop, they notice that both fathers have spent 21 shillings more than their respective sons. Moreover, each of them paid per book the same amount of shillings as books that he bought. The difference between the number of books of Alex and Peter is five.

The Question: Who is the father of Tim?


Answer: For each father-son couple holds: the father bought x books of x shillings, the son bought y books of y shillings. The difference between their expenses is 21 shillings, thus x2 - y2 = 21.
Since x and y are whole numbers (each book costs a whole amount of shillings), there are two possible solutions: (x=5, y=2) or (x=11, y=10). Because the difference between Alex and Peter is 5 books, this means that father Alex bought 5 books and son Peter 10. This means that the other son, Tim, bought 2 books, and that his father is Alex.


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