Contents
Note: to access the interactive material, you must have installed the Mathematica Player (either autonomously or as a browser plug-in)
(When opening a CDF interactive file, click on "Enable Dynamics"; then, if you use the Player, F12 puts it in full screen).
The Atractor's article "Isomorphic Games" (at the moment, only in Portuguese!), published in issue no. 169 of Gazeta da Matemática, a journal of SPM, presents a relation between the Tower of Hanoi puzzle and a game of lamps:
To see the full text of the article, click here. To play both games and to see some practical information about them, continue reading this page.
The game of lamps starts with a row of lamps which are all off. Then, by clicking
one of the lamps, either its state (on or off) changes or all lamps remain in
the same state; this depends on the state of the lamps, according to a precise
rule. The goal of the game is to end up with the rightmost lamp on and all the
others off.
In this cdf, you may try to find
out what the rule is (by clicking on the lamps).
As discussed in the article, this game is equivalent to a special version of
the Hanoi Tower puzzle. Click here
to see how you may find a solution for one of the games by solving the other.
In this cdf, you can choose
between the classical version of the Tower of Hanoi, which is not equivalent
to our game of lamps, and its special version. If you choose the special version,
given the above equivalence, you can proceed simultaneously in both games by
clicking, at any time, on the Tower of Hanoi or on the game of lamps:
And you may observe that when playing the special version, in the last move when you achieve the final configuration for one of the games, you will also get the final position for the other game.
Let us see now what happens when you choose the classical version of the Tower of Hanoi puzzle. There is only one way to solve it with a minimum number of moves. For example, for three disks, the solution with a minimum number of moves requires the following 7 moves.
Rod 1 | Rod 2 | Rod 3 | |
---|---|---|---|
Start | green, red, blue | ||
1 | red, blue | green | |
2 | blue | green | red |
3 | blue | green, red | |
4 | blue | green, red | |
5 | green | blue | red |
6 | green | red, blue | |
7 | green, red,blue |
Confirm the table above in the following pictures:
We will call the set of all intermediate "positions" of the disks in the rods a minimal path when it solves the game in the minimum number of moves. In the case above, the minimal path will be:
{((green, red, blue),(),()), ((red, blue), (green), ()), ((blue), (green), (red)), ((blue), (), (green, red)), ((), (blue), (green, red)), ((green), (blue), (red)), ((green), (red, blue), ()), ((), (green, red, blue),())}.
With this terminology, it should be noted that, even without leaving the minimal path, one may make many more moves than the minimum number if one goes back and forth one or more times. (On the contrary, if you never undo the previous move, there is only one way to follow the minimum path.)
As long as you do not leave the minimal path, there will be always a perfect match between the Tower of Hanoi game (classical version) and the game of the lamps. Undoing the previous move on the towers corresponds in the game of lamps to resetting the previous state of the last lamp that changed its state.
The moment you make a move with the disks that leaves the minimal path, that correspondence is broken and the lamps disappear. This is what happens in the case below (in the classical bicolor version), where the position shown in 4 does not correspond to an element of the minimal path and therefore the correspondence with the game of lamps is interrupted: the lamps disappear.
Try playing the classical version in 2 different ways: with only 2 colors or as many colors as the disks. When playing with disks, in which case is it easier not to get out of the minimal path?
When you are familiar with both games, increase the number of disks / lamps.
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