Nautilus

How to Solve the World’s Hardest Logic Puzzle

While a doctoral student at Princeton University in 1957, studying under a founder of theoretical computer science, Raymond Smullyan would occasionally visit New York City. On one of these visits, he met a “very charming lady musician” and, on their first date, Smullyan, an incorrigible flirt, proceeded very logically—and sneakily.

“Would you please do me a favor?” he asked her. “I am to make a statement. If the statement is true, would you give me your autograph?”

Content to play along, she replied, “I don’t see why not.”

“If the statement is false,” he went on, “you don’t give me your autograph.”

“Alright …”

His statement was: “You’ll

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