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Only one below 5000 (Posted on 2016-03-11) Difficulty: 3 of 5
If you write out the numbers from 1 to 5000 in American English (e.g., THREE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED SEVENTY-THREE), it turns out that only one of them has a unique number of characters.

Which is it?

Spaces and hyphens count as characters.

  Submitted by Ady TZIDON    
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Solution: (Hide)
Of the nine nonzero digits, three require three characters (1, 2, 6), three require four characters (4, 5, 9), and three require five characters (3, 7, 8).

This means that the last digit of the number we’re looking for must be zero, because any other digit would have counterparts of equal length. EIGHTY-ONE, for instance, is the same length as EIGHTY-TWO and EIGHTY-SIX.

(It’s true that there are some unusually named numbers between 10 and 20, but it turns out that only one of these has a unique number of characters — 17, with nine — and 42 also uses nine characters.)

The tens digit must also be zero, for similar reasons: 20, 30, 80, and 90 all use six characters; and 40, 50, and 60 use five. 10 uses three characters, but this matches 1, 2, and 6. 70 uses 7 characters, but so does 15.

The discussion above regarding the units digit applies also to the hundreds digit, so that too is zero, and the candidates we’re left with are 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, and 5000. Of these, only 3000 has a unique length, with 14 characters.

(Proposed in Pi Mu Epsilon Journal Spring 1985 by Harry Herein; solved in PMEJ Spring 1986 by Bob LaBarre.)

Comments: ( You must be logged in to post comments.)
  Subject Author Date
I appreciate...armando2016-03-27 05:42:21
Solutionsee the official solutionAdy TZIDON2016-03-26 11:16:05
Some Thoughtsre: computer solution (spoiler)Dej Mar2016-03-12 01:58:00
Solutioncomputer solutionCharlie2016-03-11 15:28:34
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