My former student, Xiaoyu He, invented this elegant puzzle and shared it with me.
Puzzle. We’ve got a murder mystery on our hands. There are four suspects, and it’s pretty clear that one of them is the actual murderer. But here’s the twist: there are also four witnesses who know who the killer is. Now, three of these witnesses are the honest type, always telling the truth, but the fourth one always lies.
You get to ask each of these witnesses a single yes-or-no question, and your question must be, “Is the murderer among this group of suspects?” You can choose any group of suspects you want. The challenge is to figure out who the murderer is.
Can you take it up a notch and determine the murderer if you have to list all your questions before getting any of the answers?