Commsrisk Quiz Defeats the World?

Lee Scargall, the quizmaster who oversees our Lunch Time Teasers, has finally done it. It looks like Lee has finally beaten the whole world.

When I saw LTT14, Lee’s most recent question, I could see it was tricky. Very tricky. Any question that short has to have some trickiness inside it. And so I found when I started doing the maths. (For the avoidance of doubt, I have a first class degree in mathematics, but I am barred from entering our quizzes.)

Several days later, I had an answer. It was an answer, but not the right answer. Several days after that, I had the right answer… but only because Lee explained why my previous answers were wrong.

Days would have been weeks, if I did not have some insight into how Lee thinks. “Ship to ship refuelling?” thought I. Lee is an airplane buff, which gave me a vital clue about how to solve the puzzle. But even so, it was devilishly difficult to work out the optimal solution for laying submarine cable around the world, and the risk tolerance associated with that solution. This is one of those puzzles where you could use all the computers in the world, crunching data all day long, but you will never get the right answer unless you first realize how to approach the problem. But if you do identify the right approach, the puzzle can be solved in minutes.

Why am I telling you this? Because we always receive plenty of answers to each LTT, but nobody has yet submitted the right answer to LTT14! Has Lee defeated the sharpest minds in telecoms analysis? You have until May 17th to prove otherwise. And the best answer wins a prize! Dare you take on the challenge of LTT14, the most difficult puzzle that Lee has ever set? If so, you will find Lee’s question here.

Update May 5th, 11.20am We now have a correct answer! One clever fellow has delivered the right result… though his workings are a bit different to Lee’s. To reiterate, the prize will go to the best answer received before the deadline. That means you can still win, if you submit the most elegant solution to this perplexing puzzle. There are several ways to approach this challenge. Can you identify the quickest way to crunch the numbers?

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.

Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a founding member of Qatar's National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum's Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group, and is an editorial advisor to Black Swan. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

Commsrisk is edited by Eric. Look here for more about Eric's history as editor.