Minimal number of buckets to hold X marbles while maintaining countability

In summary, the optimal solution to storing a certain number of marbles in minimal buckets while still being able to fulfill any customer order is to use buckets with a power of two number of marbles and have one "overflow" bucket for any remaining marbles. This strategy ensures maximum flexibility while minimizing the number of buckets needed. However, the success of this strategy also depends on the distribution of customer demands.
  • #1
KingNothing
881
4
You are the owner of a marble warehouse where you store marbles in buckets. You can fit any number of marbles in one bucket. Your job is to store X marbles in a minimal number of buckets. But, when a customer comes and asks for Y number of marbles, you must be able to hand over some buckets and give them the exact number, without adding/removing marbles from the buckets.

Essentially, minimize the number of buckets while maintaining countability.

I was asked this question in a job interview, and would like to hear your answers.
 
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  • #2
The optimal answer depends a lot on the distribution of customer demands. But part of the answer, I guess, would be to have the number of marbles in each bucket be a power of two: i.e., buckets with 1 marble, 2 marbles, 4, 8, ... That would allow you to fill any order. Off hand I can't think of another strategy that uses fewer buckets while preserving total flexibility.
 
  • #3
pmsrw3 said:
1 marble, 2 marbles, 4, 8, ... That would allow you to fill any order.

That's the answer I gave: populate the buckets with powers of two and put the remainder in one "overflow" bucket.

The customer may ask for any number of marbles, but they don't care how many buckets they get. You only care how many buckets you store.
 

Related to Minimal number of buckets to hold X marbles while maintaining countability

What is the minimum number of buckets needed to hold X marbles while maintaining countability?

The minimum number of buckets needed to hold X marbles while maintaining countability is determined by the number of marbles and the size of the buckets. Generally, the number of buckets needed is equal to the number of marbles divided by the maximum capacity of the buckets.

How do you maintain countability when using buckets to hold marbles?

To maintain countability when using buckets to hold marbles, each bucket should have a specific number or range assigned to it. This can be achieved by labeling the buckets or using a numbering system. Additionally, regularly counting and organizing the marbles within the buckets can help maintain countability.

Can the number of buckets needed to hold X marbles vary?

Yes, the number of buckets needed to hold X marbles can vary depending on the size of the buckets and the number of marbles. If the number of marbles increases or the size of the buckets changes, the minimum number of buckets needed may also change.

Are there any other factors to consider when determining the minimum number of buckets needed to hold X marbles?

Aside from the size of the buckets and the number of marbles, other factors to consider when determining the minimum number of buckets needed include the shape and weight of the marbles, as well as the desired level of organization and countability.

Can the minimum number of buckets needed to hold X marbles be calculated mathematically?

Yes, the minimum number of buckets needed to hold X marbles can be calculated mathematically by dividing the number of marbles by the maximum capacity of the buckets. This calculation provides the minimum number of buckets needed to hold the marbles, but additional factors may also need to be considered for practical use.

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