Brainteasers – Issue 18, 2010

Elephant Hunting Tactics of Professionals

In order to hunt elephants:

Computer programmers…Hunt elephants by executing Algorithm A:

1. Begin at the tip of South Africa

2. Perform alternating west to east and east to west searches

3. Decrement the latitude argument in a non integer sequence between each search

4. Catch an animal

5. Compare the found animal to a known elephant

6. If found animal matches a known elephant, terminate the search, else Resume at step 3

Experienced Programmers…

Place an elephant in Cairo, Egypt to ensure that their search algorithm will terminate properly.

Assembly Language Programmers…

Perform the same search on their hands and knees.

Mathematicians…

Develop a hypothesis supporting the existence of a unique elephant before proceeding with the search as a subordinate operation, collecting all animals found, testing them against the hypothesis and discarding all that don’t fit.

Professors of Mathematics…

Develop a hypothesis supporting the existence of a unique elephant before sending his/her students on the search, requiring that they collect all animals found, test them against the hypothesis, and bring all matching animals to him for publication.

Statisticians…

Hunt the first gray animal they see N times and call it an elephant.

Experienced Statisticians…

Add that there is a small probability that the animal they hunted is a mouse.

Economists…

Don’t hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they will hunt themselves.

Trickle-Down Economists…

Don’t hunt elephants either. They believe that if you give the elephants a small tax incentive, they will hunt themselves.

Experienced Economists…

Have never even seen an elephant, but they attempt to hunt them by controlling the interest rates.

Consultants…

Don’t actually hunt elephants and indeed may never have hunted elephants, but they can be hired at great expense by the hour, plus expenses, to advise those who do. This is, of course, in addition to the time it takes to find out what an elephant is.

Experienced Consultants…

Can also measure the correlation of hat size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only identify the elephants.

Managers…

Set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.

Experienced Managers…

Document in their project files the source of the advice that elephants are just like field mice.

Quality Assurance Staff…

Ignore the elephants and spend their time looking for mistakes the hunters made while packing the Jeep.

Sales Staff…

Don’t hunt elephants. Instead, they spend their time selling elephants the hunters haven’t caught yet, and promise delivery two days before the opening of elephant hunting season.

Software Sales Staff…

Ship the first thing they catch, write up an invoice for an elephant, modify the documentation to match, and promise a real elephant at the next update.

Hardware Sales Staff…

Catch rabbits, paint them gray and sell them as “laptop” elephants.