# Solve Brainteaser: What's the Difference in Age Between Steve and Steveston?

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• Joe1998
In summary: But there is also the possibility that Steve and Steveston are the same person and therefore the difference in the age is 0, because it could be that Clark, David and John are matched with Clarkson, Davidson and Johnston in some order, which leaves us with Steve having the last name of Steveston and therefore the age difference between Steve and Steveston is 0 (simply because they are the same person).I see that. Thank you for your help!
Joe1998
TL;DR Summary
What is the difference between Steve and Steveston in their ages?
If you have Clark, David, John and Steve in order and their last names (not in order) are Clarkson, Davidson Johnston and Steveston, where the difference in age between Clark and Clarkson is 1, the difference between David and Davidson is 2, the difference between John and Johnston is 3.

What is the difference between Steve and Steveston in their ages?

My attempt:

First names in order: Clark, David, John and Steve

Last names NOT in order: Clarkson, Davidson Johnston and Steveston

Difference in age: Clark - Clarkson = 1
David - Davidson = 2
John - Johnston = 3
Steve - Steveston = ?

I could just probably follow the trend and say Steve - Steveston = 4.

But there is also the possibility that Steve and Steveston are the same person and therefore the difference in the age is 0, because it could be that Clark, David and John are matched with Clarkson, Davidson and Johnston in some order, which leaves us with Steve having the last name of Steveston and therefore the age difference between Steve and Steveston is 0 (simply because they are the same person).

But how can we know definitely? I am sure I am missing something, so any help would be appreciate it, thanks.

Kind regards.

Joe1998 said:
TL;DR Summary: What is the difference between Steve and Steveston in their ages?

If you have Clark, David, John and Steve in order
In order by what? I see that they are alphabetically ordered. Are they also ordered by age?
Joe1998 said:
and their last names (not in order) are Clarkson, Davidson Johnston and Steveston, where the difference in age between Clark and Clarkson is 1,
Does that mean Clarkson - Clark = 1 or Clark - Clarkson = 1? Or is it part of the puzzle to figure that out?
Joe1998 said:
the difference between David and Davidson is 2, the difference between John and Johnston is 3.

What is the difference between Steve and Steveston in their ages?

My attempt:

First names in order: Clark, David, John and Steve

Last names NOT in order: Clarkson, Davidson Johnston and Steveston

Difference in age: Clark - Clarkson = 1
David - Davidson = 2
John - Johnston = 3
Steve - Steveston = ?

I could just probably follow the trend and say Steve - Steveston = 4.

But there is also the possibility that Steve and Steveston are the same person and therefore the difference in the age is 0, because it could be that Clark, David and John are matched with Clarkson, Davidson and Johnston in some order, which leaves us with Steve having the last name of Steveston and therefore the age difference between Steve and Steveston is 0 (simply because they are the same person).

But how can we know definitely? I am sure I am missing something, so any help would be appreciate it, thanks.

Kind regards.
Is that description of the puzzle exactly how it is presented? It seems vague to me.

FactChecker said:
In order by what? I see that they are alphabetically ordered. Are they also ordered by age?
Sorry for any confusion. Not necessarily in order of their age or alphabet. But it is just saying that Clark comes first, then David then John and then Steve. Just in order of their places. Whereas the surnames are listed not necessarily in order.
FactChecker said:
Does that mean Clarkson - Clark = 1 or Clark - Clarkson = 1? Or is it part of the puzzle to figure that out?
It means Clark - Clarkson = 1
FactChecker said:
Is that description of the puzzle exactly how it is presented? It seems vague to me.
No, this is just my attempt at trying to solve the solution, so I am sharing what have I got, which obviously could be wrong or incomplete, so that's why I am asking for anyone's help.

The question itself is really vague, I agree with you.

Could be four as an arithmetic progression? or five as in a fibonacci sequence? or six as in a sum of prior terms?

Yeah it could be any of what you have mentioned, or it could be something else. I am not really sure.

There aren’t that many possibilities. Naively there are only 4!=24, but you can eliminate 9 by noting that Clark isn’t Clarkson, etc, and by noting that if Clark is Davidson, then David isn’t Clarkson, etc. So you’re down to 15, which is probably hand-checkable.

FWIW, I’m guessing “difference in ages” means absolute difference, as @FactChecker seemed to suggest, not signed difference, in which case Steve Stevenson becomes a possibility.

TonyStewart
TeethWhitener said:
There aren’t that many possibilities. Naively there are only 4!=24, but you can eliminate 9 by noting that Clark isn’t Clarkson, etc, and by noting that if Clark is Davidson, then David isn’t Clarkson, etc. So you’re down to 15, which is probably hand-checkable.

FWIW, I’m guessing “difference in ages” means absolute difference, as @FactChecker seemed to suggest, not signed difference, in which case Steve Stevenson becomes a possibility.
Thanks for the reply. So why is it the case that Steve Stevenson becomes a possibility just because difference in ages means absolute difference? Can you explain that a bit more please?

Thanks.

Say Clark Davidson is 40, David Johnson is 42, and John Clarkson is 39. Then the difference between Clark and Clarkson is 1, the difference between David and Davidson is 2, and the difference between John and Johnson is 3. That leaves Steve Stevenson.

Other possibilities may exist, but that’s one that I was able to throw together pretty easily.

PeroK
That makes sense, thanks for the explanation.
The tricky thing about this question is that there are many possibilities, so I am not sure if there is any definitive answer for it?

Joe1998 said:
That makes sense, thanks for the explanation.
The tricky thing about this question is that there are many possibilities, so I am not sure if there is any definitive answer for it?

As I mentioned in post 6, there are only 15 possibilities (at most), so you can enumerate them by hand and play around with them.

I wonder what ChatGPT would make of this?

PeroK said:
I wonder what ChatGPT would make of this?
Most likely, a mess.

I think it was Jeremy Clarkson in the library with a Harley-Davidson.
Other than that, I don't have a Clue.

Joe1998 said:
TL;DR Summary: What is the difference between Steve and Steveston in their ages?

I could just probably follow the trend and say Steve - Steveston = 4.
Without speaking to this particular puzzle, if you started this pattern with S and not Cm you;d get zero.

This is an argument against looking fir "the pattern" blindly, not an argument for a different pattern.

Please post this problem EXACTLY. You've been asked this before. Don't try and explain. Post it EXACTLY.

One possible solution has been discussed, where you have Steve Stevenson, so the age difference is obviously zero. I haven't checked this. But this means that if there is a single answer - and there may not be - it must be zero.

jedishrfu
Yes, thats a good idea. Often clues are hidden with the problem.

As an aside, Colossal Cave adventure used clever wordy phrases to indicate what room you were in when traversing the cave. One message would say you are in a passage of twisty turny tunnels and the other would say you are in a passage of turny twisty tunnels, different rooms of the cave.

I guess the request for the question scare the OP away. Pity.

xyzzy.

Can we confidently conclude that the OP is not coming back with the exact question?

jedishrfu said:
Yes, thats a good idea. Often clues are hidden with the problem.

As an aside, Colossal Cave adventure used clever wordy phrases to indicate what room you were in when traversing the cave. One message would say you are in a passage of twisty turny tunnels and the other would say you are in a passage of turny twisty tunnels, different rooms of the cave.

Depends on the version of CC you got. Some versions randomly generated the "all different" tunnel names. Amusingly, the "all the same" tunnels would also have different descriptions. There is a way to map the tunnels that does not depend on the description. But the Pirate was a complication. "I wonder what this fine boots is doing here?"

Now you've made me all nostalgic. Have not played CC in more than 30 years.

jedishrfu
Solution: Assuming that "difference" means "first item minus second item" then it's straightforward to prove that C, D, and J cannot form a cycle. That is, you cannot have Steve Steveston. This is because you cannot have C-Cs, D-Ds, or J-Js. So there are only two possible cycles of C, D, and J, if you require S-Ss. Neither of them admits a solution of the the three differences.

Then examine each possibility for the first name of Ss. For example, if you try C-Ss then you can have J-Ds or J-Cs. Each of these choices leads to the difference of S to Ss being negative six. Every combination is either impossible because of the three given differences, or leads to a difference of S-Ss of six. That is, Steveston is six years older than Steve.

Last edited:
Grelbr42 said:
Depends on the version of CC you got. Some versions randomly generated the "all different" tunnel names. Amusingly, the "all the same" tunnels would also have different descriptions. There is a way to map the tunnels that does not depend on the description. But the Pirate was a complication. "I wonder what this fine boots is doing here?"

Now you've made me all nostalgic. Have not played CC in more than 30 years.

I believe I have the Don Woods mainframe version version written in FORTRAN which read a datafile with messages and cave linkages described in it. I had access to the games directory on our GE-635 (later Honeywell-6000) computer. The Don Woods game added a lot including a game lock to prevent running it during work hours.

Apparently, the original Crowther version is still floating around. They thought the original was lost but found a copy on Don Woods' student account.

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