Thursday, May 8, 2014

I'm thinking of a number...

Here is a game. You are presented with countably infinitely many boxes. Each containing a single real number, you're allowed to open as many boxes as you like and view the number inside the now opened box. However to end this game you need at some point in time to point to a specific box and before opening it guess the number inside it. Due to horribly unimaginative rules, you win if you guess right and lose if you guess wrong.

At first glance this seems like a game you're bound to lose all the time. However if you arm yourself with the axiom of choice it is possible to win with large probability. Your challenge is to find the optimal solution.

Hat tip to Zach Hamaker for showing me this problem which I believe originally comes from his advisor Peter Winkler